All mystics are positive people—or they are not mystics! Their spiritual warfare is precisely the work of recognizing and then handing over all of their inner negativity and fear to God.—Richard Rohr, Eager to Love
I’ve written on this blog in the past about my struggle with depression and my intentional work to be a positive person. In fact, I wrote that post in May 2020, in the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic, when we all struggled with depression, fear, and uncertainty in the face of a worldwide plague. At that point, we had no idea what the future held. None of us knew which friends, family, and/or foes would succumb to this relentless disease.
Of course, the same is true today. COVID-19 still kills thousands of people a month, though, as a society, we have become desensitized to the statistics. Other news has pushed it off the front pages of our screens and our minds. Now, many of us worry about US midterm elections and the pandemic of totalitarianism sweeping through nations around the world. Others are consumed with worries about rising inflation and whether there will be enough money to put food on the table in the months ahead.
The fact is that we can always find something to worry about—and we can always find something to be positive about. For more than a dozen years now, I’ve intentionally worked to be a positive person—but I never expected to find myself equated with a mystic because of it! I’ve recently been immersing myself in Richard Rohr’s book Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi and the quote above (from page 9) really jumped out at me because it both validated my efforts and also put them in a new context.
You see, Richard Rohr defines mysticism (on page 1) as “experiential knowledge of spiritual things, as opposed to book knowledge, secondhand knowledge or even church knowledge.” That means we all can be mystics. There’s nothing inherently “special” about mysticism. Instead, it requires that we trust and act as if God actually works in and through us. And when we do that, how can any of us not be positive!?
It also means we have a choice in the process. Unfortunately, society and the church frequently and repeatedly teach us to not trust our inner spiritual experience. Yet that is, so often, how God most clearly speaks to us. We must choose to open ourselves to God. We must, to use Richard’s terminology, recognize and hand over all the negativity and fear that would separate us from God, each other, and even ourselves.
When we consciously work to do that, we can become more positive mystics. I’m living proof! I will also say that my quality of life improves greatly when I focus on the positive and see how God’s love, beauty, and wisdom are infused in the world around us.
Will you join me on this mystical journey?