Thursday, September 28, 2006

Thoughts from a Christian Mystic

As I continue to read more from Catherine Doherty, I find myself continually blown away by what she has to say. In particular, I love how universally resonating her message is; how, stripped of its Christian phraseology, it actually sounds like it could belong to any tradition's mystical experience:

ONE: "When you enter the poustinia (inner desert) you enter the orbit of God. You hold on to his coat. A thousand hands try to pull his coat out of your hands. You are free to give in to the temptation, to flee from the poustinia, or to resist. It's because of this freedom that a poustinik has no rules. There is nothing to guide yourself by except what is within. This is where discernment comes in. Among the variety of things that people want you to do , you have to discern from your heart what to do. Your life ought to be a life of service to the community. There is only one thing you do not do: satisfy your own ego."

TWO: "Christianity moves into 'nothingness' and finds God. There comes a moment in this movement toward nothingness which seems to be a moment of nonexistence. It appears idiotic, positively idiotic to say such a thing. But it's true. It's a moment when you are nonexistent as far as being a person is concerned. Everything has disappeared. You are not even cognizant that 'you are.' You are only cognizant of darkness. Whether you are in depths or heights is unimportant; you are not even cognizant of that. But there is a moment of nonexistence out of which you come. And when you come out, prayer begins."

...and finally...

THREE: "The desert is an altar on which moment by moment you bring the offering of yourself. For self-will is the obstacle that eternaly stands between me and God. We decide that we are going to do such and such a thing. God comes along and says, 'No, do this.' It's a matter of doing what he wants us to do, not because we are afraid of him, or afraid of dying, but because we are in love with him, and because we enter the poustinia to really do his will and not ours. The poustinia is there to form that attitude in you. The poustinik must finally come to understand that he has to become as empty as God became for him."

[all selections from Catherine de Hueck Doherty's book POUSTINIA]


isaiah said...

"Christianity moves into 'nothingness' and finds God.

"But there is a moment of nonexistence out of which you come."

Catherine's words steer into the mystery that is being, and, for me sheds light in every corner of "the good news".

I'm intrigued as to her background, her coming into this usage of language to describe her Christianity. Christianity seems to be afraid of mysticism?

I wonder why that is when the word has been given that... "[he]is the beginning and the end", and is to be found "...within you, and around you, break wood am I not there, break rock am I not there?"

Thanks for sharing Catherine's wonderful words with us.

mark walter said...

One of my favorite posts ever on your site. ONE and TWO touch on two of my favorite topics: discernment and darkness. Simply outstanding. Mystics of the world, unite, and take a stand; lead & change the world!

frimmin said...

Wow! Yes, she knows.

What a wonderful and fresh voice. I've never heard of her. How did you come across her?

Thanks for sharing.