Mystics have an exotic reputation. Our culture associates them with altered states of consciousness; with strange, even supernatural activities; with “mystic crystal revelations,” as the title song in the musical Hair puts it. At the very least, we expect otherworldly, “saintlike” behavior.
We do not necessarily picture a quiet woman who lived a life of prayer in her church cell with her cat, sometimes offering spiritual guidance to visitors, as Julian of Norwich lived. We don’t think of St. Theresa of Avila, annoyed at having had to cross a stream head down under her donkey due to a saddle-related mishap, griping to God about the indignity of her treatment — and, upon God’s resp0nding that this is how God treats friends, snapping back to God, “No wonder you have so few!” We don’t picture, in other words, people with personalities, tempers, and pets — but the entire point of this course is that mystical experiences are not limited to desert hermits or people who live in a kind of extreme religious haze, but for Christians of every kind and temperament who desire union with God.
In this course, Dan London, a teacher and priest serving Christ Episcopal Church in Eureka, California, discusses the English mystics of the fourteenth century, particularly Julian of Norwich and the author of The Cloud of Unknowing. He talks about the work of these mystics in the context of contemporary scholarship and explains ways in which we can use their work to help us on our own spiritual journeys.
We hope that this course helps support you as you build and expand your life of prayer. For a preview of this course, please click here.