If the idea of being a mystic gets you excited, you should read The Interior Castle.
If the idea of mysticism scares you, you should read The Interior Castle.
If you are reading the word “mysticism” and have no idea what I’m talking about, you should read The Interior Castle.
Am I making myself clear? St. Teresa of Avila is brilliant and tuned in, and has the best understanding of the inner world, of what it means to be the dwelling place of Christ, than anyone I have read and discovered.
I will refer to her a lot and will write, I’m sure, many ideas that are deviations from her revelation--revelatory deviations? Maybe that’s the word. And I’ll let this be the first.
Early on in her seminal work, The Interior Castle, (have I mentioned that book yet?) St. Teresa makes mention of where true humility comes from. It’s a blip, a side note, and then she continues on in the meat of the book--an exploration of the redeemed soul.
Anyway, she discusses how our souls are made in God’s image and how they are beautiful because of that. She also discusses how important it is for us to leave our worldly perspective and look to God. That is how she suggests cultivating humility--by looking up at God and seeing His majesty.
And then she talks about how it makes us realize how lowly and insignificant we are and I actually don’t buy that part. I love St. Teresa. I love this book. And that doesn’t mean there aren’t any bones in it.
Here’s what I get from it, though: I can be humbled by looking at someone who is doing amazing, incredible things and that is going to set my standard--just as good as the person doing amazing things.
Or, I can shift my perspective to Christ and how vastly big and good He is--everything He did, everything He promised, and all He does daily, and by humbled by that and I have all of this room and do and be greater.
Our ability to be the most effective, the best versions of ourselves, is determined greatly by what we choose to be humbled by.
We’re created in God’s image, so if God is really good and really big, then I get to be good and big. And that is exciting. I can never be better than God. He will always out-good and out-kind me. Everytime. So, I turn to God. I cultivate my heart toward Him, and I get to be better and kinder every day by gazing upon His vastness.
Every day that I turn to God and gaze at Him and His marvelous works is every day that I am becoming someone who does great works.
The flipside is true too.
If I keep God in a box and assume that he is mean and vengeful, that is going to shape my view of myself too. If God is small and mean, then I can only be smaller and meaner.
If God is limited, then I am bound and imprisoned.
If God is mean, then I am petty, hurtful, and vengeful.
Every time we limit God, we limit ourselves. And every time we acknowledge His vastness, we liberate ourselves.
I’m never going to finish understand God. I, in fact, think that is what I’m going to be spending all of eternity doing--unraveling the divine mystery that is my creator. And when He reveals a piece of Himself to me, He is revealing me to myself.
Now we see in a mirror dimly…
This, by the way, is my definition of mysticism: a humbling of myself before my Creator who has invited my to explore His depths. To be fully immersed in His goodness so that I have no choice but to radiate His goodness.
It’s a complete inside job, which, I happen to think is the development of faith.
And, if your view of God is small and mean, I would encourage you to ask Him to reveal Himself in greater measure. Open the box. Let Him fill every space of you until His goodness is overflowing. Leak His goodness all over. He is very kind and I believe that He will give you what you ask when it comes to how much of Him you want.
It’s scary to want something that big. It’s scary to want all of Him. It’s easy to ascribe Him to a set rules based on our experiences. But He’s not.
And this is where St. Teresa and I deviate: if I recognize that I am made in God’s image and I think I’m garbage, then my perspective of God will be that He is only slightly better than garbage.
And that sucks too. That limits God in our lives. Only-slightly-better-than-garbage-God isn’t going to do much good for anybody. Why would I think it is important for anyone, much less myself, listen to someone who is only slightly better than garbage? That will have no impact or influence on my life.
Again, I can’t out-good or out-big God. So, fixing my gaze on Him while I’m doing amazing things and being an incredible follower for him, will always take me back to the truth: that He is bigger and greater than me, than I could ever imagine.