Thursday, September 22, 2011

And then, it got weird: Psychism and Mysticism....

It was about 10:30A.M. when I left the grocery store, I was pretty happy with my early start to the day. As I drove north I got just a bit tense as always when I approached this intersection, which at 10:30 instead of dawn, like this picture, is a pretty busy one. ..... I had a big old 4x4 then, and the road approaches at a very slight angle, so you have to correct a little bit or you end up driving into the opposing lane.  It's a narrow road and that nice line behind which westbound traffic should stop wasn't there when I lived there, the drivers who wanted to turn right would crowd up pretty much into the intersection.  Driving around them, avoiding the oncoming cars, making the adjustment, it was just a place where you had to pay attention.

See that bottom yellow blotch?  I was driving about 35mph and that was where I was when the vision started.  Everything around me disappeared but the vision...

This is an excerpt from Exp 8 above, has the same title as this post. I don't usually include the Experience text, but what I have to talk about is the difference between "religious experience" and "psychic stuff" and how to make sense of that in terms of God.  Which I could do better if I thought I really had made sense of it.  It helps to know about St. Mary Magdalen de' Pazzi:

before taking vows
From the time of her clothing with the religious habit till her death the saint's life was one series of raptures and ecstasies, of which only the most notable characteristics can be named in a short notice.
  • First, these raptures sometimes seized upon her whole being with such force as to compel her to rapid motion (e.g. towards some sacred object).
  • Secondly, she was frequently able, whilst in ecstasy, to carry on work belonging to her office--e.g., embroidery, painting, etc.--with perfect composure and efficiency.
  • Thirdly--and this is the point of chief importance--it was whilst in her states of rapture that St. Mary Magdalen de' Pazzi gave utterance to those wonderful maxims of Divine Love, and those counsels of perfection for souls, especially in the religiousstate, which a modern editor of a selection of them declares to be "more frequently quoted by spiritual writers than those even of St. Teresa". 
The second item is the one I found most interesting, that she could be "in ecstasy,"  which indicates having visions and being unaware of her surroundings, while carrying on normal tasks.  According to the article, the Sisters wrote down what she said, referring to the third item, because she was a unaware she'd spoken.  (The full text of her life and works can be found here.)

I do not suggest or pretend that I could have anything in common with this great Saint but possibly gender, however, I do note that if  she was able to sew without stabbing herself or do other complex tasks while in ecstasy, then the idea that someone can have a vision and drive a car seems fairly easy to accept.  

Spiritual or Psychic?

I never wanted to say I was psychic.  I never expected to have a healing or miracle or any other evidence of God in my life.  I thought about this a lot and looked into it a great deal, and had a lot more "psychic stuff" I often couldn't separate from the "God stuff" so... is it all "God stuff?"  I dunno, I don't think so.  Is it that people who get these things are more Holy?  LOL!!!!!  ..  
But Mary Magdalene de Pazzi is not a saint because she received ecstasies and graces from God. Many have received visions, ecstasies, and miracles without becoming holy.

She was a true mystic, not a sometime mystic as people like myself and those who read this blog or have these experiences are.  We are graced beyond belief by outrageous mercy.  I have always thought in my own case it's because I am such a spiritual dunce God had to do these things to make sure I stayed put in faith.  But mystics commonly show what we would call psychic ability.  Other great Saints, not known as mystics, don't.

The truth is, at this point, I believe it's genetic.  That is: We are unique individuals, and the Holy Spirit's presence in us, brings into bloom whatever is in our nature in response to God.  Like being different seeds watered from the same well: some becomes oak trees, some stalks of wheat, some moss.  But all critical to the balance and harmony of God's plan.

Being graced with extraordinary experiences doesn't make us sinless or holy or anything admirable like that.  It just makes us Graced.  We can still sin, and do.  Yet, being close to God, if we are constant in our spiritual practice, also leads to change.  We become less tolerant of things "not-God" like violence and immodesty and consumerism and just everyday rudeness.  We can even find we seem to be barely in the world at all, but in a kind of constant state of prayerful awareness of  the Light of God.  And still sin.

It's taken me rather a long time to write this post because it leads to the next post. The next post is titled: "Then it got REALLY Weird."  Except it isn't, because I realize there is at least one that goes in between: "Darkness Falls."   


  1. Enjoyed reading this post. As you know, these things happen to me, too, frequently -- or perhaps I should say, too frequently. The vision about writing (which has turned into two published books -- Blest Atheist and A Believer in Waiting's First Encounters with God -- and a three in progress (Raising God's Rainbow Makers, In This World But Not Of It, and Broken Wing, Crooked Halo, the latter of which will probably be out first) -- came while I was driving: vision and voice. It did not drive me off the road; I just found myself multi-tasking although in this case I remember only the vision, not the driving and perhaps was only aware of the vision, not the driving, at the time. I think God takes care of us in those cases so that we do not create major accidents and the like. Perhaps God did the driving because I don't recall doing any driving at all.

    I discuss psychism vs mysticism in one chapter of Believe in Waiting. Not that I have any clearer answers than you do! I found the comment about a genetic connection interesting. I will have to think about that.

    It is always wonderful to hear your experiences because of the parallels with mine, and it is rare to find others although we both know they are out there, either unwilling to tell or unable to tell (no outlet).

  2. Hi, Elizabeth! You're writing three books right now? I can barely write one blog. LOL!

    I've done rather a lot of research on the psychism/mysticism connection. After I get back from vacation, and get to the point of "Then it got REALLY weird" I'm going to cut the whole limb off behind myself and talk about what I think is going on. (I do promise there are no aliens involved!)

    The genetic link is spoken of by a lot of psychics, and seems to have been the case between my father and myself an my daughter and myself. Though prior to these experiences I would never have admitted to any such word as "psychic" in relation to myself - too "irrational."

    I love our glorious nonsensical God!