Since we launched our Daily Meditations on Mother’s Day we have been treating three categories of Creation Spirituality to assist us in saving Mother Earth as we know her, aware that we have less than 12 years to accomplish that precious and pressing task.
Those categories include: 1) the Divine Feminine 2) the return of the Healthy and Sacred Masculine and 3) Art as Meditation, the Way of the Prophets.
Now we turn to another category that will hold other dimensions to renewing our spirits and our spiritualities. We are talking about Experiencing the Divine. This includes underscoring the nature of mysticism and the ordinariness of our mystical experience. For if the prophet is “the mystic in action” (Hocking), it is clearly essential that we know something about how we are all mystics.
It will also include diving more deeply into the Four Paths of Creation Spirituality and how they help us to as name our spiritual journeys from mystics (lovers) to prophets (resisters).
About Experiencing the Divine
A number of years ago I was being interviewed on Dutch television by a young (about 40 years old), bright, dynamic and professional man who had done his homework. Immediately after the interview ended and the bright stage lights had been turned off, he leaned over and said to me: “I am dying to ask you a question that I did not want to ask on air–Do you Americans actually believe that people can still experience God?”
Obviously this question hit me hard—otherwise I would not have remembered it all these years. I suspect behind it is the near collapse of religious practice in Europe where in Germany about 5-6% of the population practice their Lutheran faith; in England about 6% of Anglicans; in France about 6% of Catholics, etc. etc. And in America the numbers are in free fall as well though they started at a more elevated place. Having just returned from lecturing in Ireland, there the numbers have fallen from 95% Roman Catholics practicing fifteen years ago to 14% today.
Carl Jung said that “the main purpose of organized religion is to prevent persons from having an experience of God.” Whether he is exactly correct or not it would seem he predicted a certain trend that is happening today.
One reason the experience of God appears distant and foreign to many Westerners is that mysticism has become rare in churches and seminaries for centuries. As Theodore Roszak put it, “the enlightenment held mysticism up for ridicule as the worst offence against science and reason.”
It is true that mysticism is other than rationality and intellect. But humans, as Einstein observed, are recipients of two “gifts”—intellect (rationality) and intuition (or “deep feeling” as Einstein calls it). Some people identify the former with our left brains and the latter with the right brain.
The Psalmist sings: “Taste and see that God is good.” Tasting is experiencing; no one can taste for you. No vicarious tasting therefore. But the message is that we can taste God. To taste is to experience.
Years ago psychologist R. D. Laing proposed that “God is our experience of God.” Of course in that context if we have not experienced God then that God does not exist (at least for us). Think about this: Is your partner the experience of your partner? Your friend your experience of your friend? It would appear to be quite accurate to propose that God is our Experience of God.
In the Daily Meditations that follow we will explore in more depth and breadth this basic question: DO we experience God? Can we? How do we? What does that mean?
Banner Image: “Autumn Sun Rays” by Holly Lay, Flickr
Queries for Contemplation
Do you believe that we can still experience God? Give some examples from your experience.
Do you agree with R. D. Laing that “God is our experience of God.” Give examples to yourself.
The 365 writings in Christian Mystics represent a wide-ranging sampling of these readings for modern-day seekers of all faiths — or no faith. The visionaries quoted range from Julian of Norwich to Martin Luther King, Jr., from Thomas Merton to Dorothee Soelle and Thomas Berry.
Matthew Fox calls on all the world traditions for their wisdom and their inspiration in a work that is far more than a list of theological position papers but a new way to pray—to meditate in a global spiritual context on the wisdom all our traditions share. Fox chooses 18 themes that are foundational to any spirituality and demonstrates how all the world spiritual traditions offer wisdom about each.