I had the pleasure of first meeting Dana several years ago when she attended a retreat I led in the Pacific Northwest on praying the Hours through art and movement. I felt a deep kinship to her spirit and vision and have been delighted to keep our connection going, first through her appearance as a guest teacher in last year's online Advent retreat, and now for this wonderful collaboration.
Here is Dana sharing about the power of mystics' stories for her:
Whenever I hear or read the word, mystic, stirrings arise from a place deep in my heart. Stirrings related to the concepts of sacred mystery, ancient spiritual wisdom, prayer, solitude and communion with the Divine.
It feels important, for clarity’s sake, to share the definition of the word, mystic…
A person who seeks by contemplation and self-surrender to obtain unity with or absorption into the Deity or the absolute, or who believes in the spiritual apprehension of truths that are beyond the intellect.
“… believes in the spiritual apprehension of truths that are beyond the intellect” This is the portion of the definition that holds personal resonance for me and perhaps for you too.
Our contemporary world is driven by technology and often the overwhelming bombardment of information. Intellect is a marvelous gift of life and miraculous human capacity. We have the ability to explore concepts, process ideas and express convictions.
Mystics, on the other hand… mystics rely on the “spiritual apprehension of truths.” What does this mean?
Perhaps the definition itself is a threshold. To apprehend truths through the spirit there is a point of demarcation from acquiring truths through the intellect. Mystics utilize their senses as conduits to the Divine. There is the element of “self-surrender” and the desire for unity.
Mystics travel sacred thoroughfares just out of plain sight within nature, the imagination, and the invisible realms. I am drawn to explore the threshold stories of several of the early Christian feminine mystics with you because I believe their ancient wisdom holds potential to inform our present day lives.
Since childhood, I have been drawn to study the lives of artisans, visionaries, poets, and prayerful people. I’ve acquired the belief through my exploration of early Christian Mysticism that all of us are mystics at the core of our souls. Some of the most renowned mystics in history and herstory have been considered utterly “ordinary” folks by common standards. How they came to carry extraordinary spiritual gifts is perhaps reflected in the above definition. They surpassed the intellect to apprehend spiritual truths beyond the confines of the mind. Another way of saying it is that through the mystery of grace, the mystic accesses a threshold leading to direct interaction with the Divine.
A quote I heard several years ago sent me on a journey to France to explore the life of a famous woman mystic, Joan of Arc. That journey ultimately led me to an in-depth study of the early Christian Feminine mystics, a journey both deeply personal and spiritually transformative.
Joan of Arc, while on trial for her life was asked by one of her inquisitors… You say God speaks to you, but it’s only your imagination. The young woman in men’s clothing who heard voices and had visions directing her to form an army to save France replied, How else would God speak to me but through my imagination?
Through my study of the mystics (including Hildegard of Bingen, Julianne of Norwich, the mystics of the medieval Beguine movement, and many others) I came to a great appreciation for the mysterious way God speaks to us through our imaginations. I believe it’s the field of the sacred imagination where Spirit interacts with matter (our humanness) to spark inspiration, to imbue our creativity with vision, and to quicken our souls with spiritual understanding. This interaction of Divine fire with human desire yields both subtle and profound wisdom, experiences, imaginings, and creative vision.
I look forward to the opportunity to explore with you what the mystics have to teach us about thresholds. They invite us to step away from what we think we know, to experience the Mystery of the Divine through our sacred imaginations. When we arrive at this numinous threshold, spiritual truths await our apprehension and transformation becomes our reality.
—Dana Reynolds (Don't miss her video posted last Monday on thresholds)
Women on the Threshold will offer a multitude of ancient stories of women who have traveled this path before, including women from scripture and the mystics, as well as others.
If this sounds too delicious to miss, you are right. Please join us here. You have the option of the email content and a private forum for online conversation with all the women gathered for this event. AND you can also opt to choose small group spiritual direction via phone to support you in this process (and/or individual spiritual direction with any of our facilitators if you prefer).
Do you have questions about whether this program is right for you? Email me!
If you are drawn to exploring the monk and artist's path this fall, Way of the Monk, Path of the Artist is also being offered again in its 12-week online format with just a couple of spaces left! Always a transformative journey as well. . .