I am delighted to share another beautiful submission to the Monk in the World guest post series from the community. Read on for Katharine Donovan Kane’s reflection In Search of the Ordinary Mystic.
I’m a mystic. It sounds right to say but none-the-less it feels uncomfortable. In my family’s Catholic heritage, I learned that only special people are mystics. And they are almost always saints. My mother used to read an old text called Lives of the Saints to my siblings and me when we were little. Does anyone else remember that book? It was filled with the challenges of men and women from long, long ago who suffered through life’s tribulations and surpassed them into a sacred union with their God. Even as a child in the 1950s I clearly recall being intrigued by this union. I wanted that, I thought. Of course, I sluffed over the rough parts. I didn’t focus on the illnesses or the painful experiences these saints-in-the-making had. However, I clearly desired a union. Whenever I would think of sacred as a child, I would close my eyes, look up and feel a warm light on my face. That was all I needed to know something special was close.
Now, in the early days of my seventh decade I know more about what it means to be a mystic. The stories of “saintly” persons past and present doesn’t resonate like the ‘ol days. When I think of a deep longing for a mystical connection, I am drawn to the nearby woods. Though I see and feel the sacred exemplified in nature I still sense a tug of resistance to fully owning myself as a mystic. Who am I after all? I’m ordinary. Unlike others more worthy than I there is no lifelong illness to report. Oh, don’t get me wrong, there was struggle in being the seventh child of a large family, whose father died early leaving my mother to go it alone. But then that would be my mother’s story of sainthood. I suspect, though, like me my mother would say the sainthood style of mysticism does not resonate. For sure, I’m no saint.
Since my divorce more than ten years ago I’ve lived in different places, held various jobs, and met lots of new people – some of whom were the guides I needed at the time. Through it all I sensed a new way of being making its way into my conscious awareness. My personal story, my graduate degree from Fordham University, and my certifications associated with my calling, have informed what it means to be a mystic in a concrete, rational way. But still, where is there a viable model for a contemporary mystic.
What I sense for myself is that there is, and always has been, a gateway to that desired connection. It’s already there. A clue to this presence was given to me as a child. The portal was the light and warm sensation I felt on my face as a little girl. I knew at that time – and I didn’t need anyone’s reassurance of this – that I was experiencing something sacred. I just knew it.
Now I feel the seasonal vibrations of the earth, the call of the birds in the tree canopies around me, and the ever-present perception of a real otherworld side-by-side with my own. There’s been a threaded connection weaving itself in and out of my whole life. It’s nothing extraordinary. I haven’t changed the course of history by my actions. At the same time, I am comfortable knowing that I’m experiencing the sacred.
There’s no concern now about using words like blessed be, or magic, or sacred, or energy, or saint, or druid. It’s all the same. Contemplation is spending quiet reflective time as well as companioning another person in their inner wisdom quest. Sacred is experiencing the ecstatic in dancing to the drum beat of rhythms allowing myself to feel joy in my body. There is also the awareness of gratitude that my eyes notice things in the simple vignettes of beauty that nature offers. These moments are easily missed yet, thank goodness, they never fail to try to get my attention. I’m reminded again and again I am one part of a multi-dimensional reality, and it waits patiently for me to recognize the union that already is. I am invited to see this beauty through the lens of my unique portal entryway.
All this is an essential base of understanding of my Self as I go about living my passion for Inner Wisdom Wayfinding and Dreamwork in the service of my clients. So, yes. I identify as a mystic. There’s nothing that I do to conjure this or earn it. Really, it’s just one avenue of contemplating the union of the sacred in all nature. It’s special in its ordinariness.
One thing I’ve learned is there’s no mystic template for me after all only the threshold especially designed for my eyes to see…and an invitation to step forward with the simple childlike knowing.