Making of a Mystic

Making of a Mystic

 “It was late at night on the open road,
Speeding like a man on the run,
A lifetime spent preparing for the journey;

He is closer now and the search is on,
Reading from a map in the mind,
Yes there’s the ragged hill,
And there’s the boat on the river.
 And when the rain came down,
He heard a wild dog howl,
There were voices in the night – “Don’t do it!”
Voices out of sight – “Don’t do it!
Too many men have failed before,
Whatever you do,
Don’t pay the ferryman,
Don’t even fix a price,
Don’t pay the ferryman,
Until he gets you to the other side;

 In the rolling mist, then he gets on board,
Now there’ll be no turning back,
Beware that hooded old man at the rudder…”

  – Chris De Burgh (Ferryman)

Know Thy Self

We are all students and teachers, by sharing we grow. Everyone’s path is unique. This post contains a glimpse of mine…

Christian Mysticism is the terminology that best embodies the way I personally relate to God.  Admittedly there are many levels of spiritual development within Christianity and I’m not suggesting what follows is meant for the replacement of mainstream religion. Quite the opposite, I couldn’t imagine that a Christian mystic could arise separate from some form of structured religion, but rather is called out of the confines of formal Christianity somewhere along the way. On this point I could be mistaken, I can only share from my personal experience with any degree of certainty.

I don’t assume that if someone were to pray in a similar fashion, read the books I have read, learn to understand biblical psychology, allegory, or find their identify in search of the beloved that there would be a common language to express the final experience.

Born Baptist – Visions of Hellfire Dance in my Head

My religious heritage is from the Protestants, specifically Southern Baptist. You see, I was well into my teens with the idea that at any given moment Jesus was going to come back or the Russians were going to push the “button” and life as I knew it was done! Chances were pretty good that I wouldn’t have time to fully repent before being vaporized or caught in the very act sin by Jesus Himself (rapture time). Nevertheless I continued, driven by circumstances, reacting to life, seeking pleasure and avoiding pain, having my cake and eating too, the underpinnings of the Baptist mindset exemplified…

Looking back on salvation, being born again, seemed to me as starting point rather than the ultimate purpose in life.  Having been through the rituals and rights, baptized, and publically confessed, I still felt like somehow I was missing it! I had expectations of a real relationship with the living God. Questions started infiltrating from deep within, scary questions that chipped away at everything I was raised to believe. According to Baptist authorities on the matter, when the question was “how do I know that I am saved”, the answer was always “You know – that you know – that you know.”

 Never you mind young padawan, the masters would always assure “all of your questions will be answered when you get to heaven.” But, but, but, what if… Secretly I started to wonder if I really believed with all of my heart, realizing my blessed assurance was missing! No one could help, the questions turned into condemnation and I begin to fear eternal separation again. I didn’t realize that my journey had only begun and that life would evolve for me as test rather than testimonial. 

Embracing Christian Mysticism

Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? God is not a possession of the human soul, the soul is His. “In him we live and move and have our being.” My observations do not vary greatly from what most Christian’s state about faith, the difference being a personal experiential intangibility of God alive, within, not as a system of thought or emotional intuition.

It’s nearly impossible to say how or when I grasped the beliefs that I treasure now. Life appears to me as a contiguous whole rather than a collection of puzzle pieces that somehow fit together to form my personhood. Nevertheless, the turning points of my life exist as wisdom. However, it is beyond the scope of this memoir to elaborate further concerning the circumstances of life that led to wisdom.

I worship God in spirit and truth, turns out that’s Christian and Mystic. Everyone’s path is unique, like footprints on water, mine remains.

 Pax Vobiscum
-C.M. Gregory


Share your journey here: Embracing Christian Mysticism

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13 Responses to Making of a Mystic

  1. Beautiful post Gregory. “Life appears to me as a contiguous whole rather than a collection of puzzle pieces that somehow fit together to form my personhood.” I can relate very strongly to that comment. I know I have a history, a past where I made numerous choices for good or bad. And yet, in this moment it seems that a certain life has “unfolded”, from exactly when or where I cannot say. It seems that it hasn’t been a path at all but rather an idea come to fruition.
    God’s Peace

  2. Nice! I love the insight of the poem you chose (“There were voices in the night – ‘Don’t do it!’/Voices out of sight – ‘Don’t do it!’ . . . “Now there’ll be no turning back”), your own sense of faith (“a personal experiential intangibility of God alive”), and your humor: “visions of Hellfire dance in my head.”

    Thank you for sharing and for opening up this conversation.

  3. seth says:

    “I couldn’t imagine that a Christian mystic could arise separate from some form of structured religion…”

    I can’t think of any mystics – Christian or otherwise – who weren’t associated with some “school” of thought. I get a little irritated sometimes with the “spiritual but not religious” crowd. Just because the spirit transcends the letter doesn’t mean that we can do away with the letter altogether. Don’t use your high and mighty “spirituality” as an excuse to ignore tradition, conscience or good ol’ common sense.

    It may be true that there are few Baptist mystics, but I have a feeling you wouldn’t be where you are now if your Southern Baptist heritage hadn’t first laid the groundwork. Even the things you didn’t like about it have likely influenced the choices you are now making. ‘Course no one is “born Baptist” – everyone’s a convert…. :)

    There are a couple of us who get it – Tony Campolo being one – but he (and I) are associated with ABCUSA – a bunch of liberal weenies compared to the Southern Baptists. :)

    I appreciated the post, Gregory. I can tell you have a level head on your shoulders.


    • Mark Rowley says:

      Love what you said about not being “high & mighty” spiritually and remembering tradition. Both huge!

  4. Dan Taylor says:

    This was very good and is exactly one of the reasons why I browse this website. Well Done!!! More to come…. Dan

  5. Helen Millett says:

    You encapsulated in one beautiful sentence my whole theology! “a personal experiential intangibility of God alive, within, not as a system of thought or emotional intuition.” Most people I talk to have not experienced that “intangibility of God alive”, but relate to God on a mind or emotional level. I tell them it is as if another presence is in the room that you sense but cannot see (on the outside) and on the inside, the “living waters” of which the scriptures speak. And thus God is with us and in us:)
    Thanks so much for sharing.

  6. C.M. Gregory says:

    Thanks for all of the encouraging comments & I’m looking forward to reading your stories in the forum!

    Karina: I’m glad you enjoyed the Chris De Burgh, I could not get that song out of my head the entire time I was writing the article :) Thanks for sharing your story in the forum, hope to see others too!

    Seth: “level head” – “liberal weenies” seriously LOL – thanks for commenting!

    Dan: Glad you are still with us, looking forward to “more to come”!

    Helen: Welcome to! God is with us, in us, and we’re in Him.

  7. maggy heath says:

    I resonated with the evangelical Baptist background. One is asked to surrender one’s soul to God. I always wondered whether I had “surrendered” enough and if I was keeping some of my soul back and did not realise it. Therefore I would not make Heaven’s list. I was forever “surrendering” to God.
    Then I too “got” that verse one day “In Him we live and move and have our being”. There is really nowhere anyone can go to get away from God. I already live “in Him”.
    Quite a wondrous life we live. I am grateful.

  8. Shawn says:

    Your religious experience and perspective is so similar to mine. Seemingly identical, as far as this small glimpse affords. I suspect there are many, many more like us. Maybe our spiritual paths aren’t all that different.

    I’ve recently come to the realization that I felt wounded by my religious upbringing and actually wanted to “get even” with that faceless multitude–the southern baptists. Now that I can clearly see that aggression, I’m finally free of it. Onward!

    • C.M. Gregory says:


      It’s worthy of note to discover that our common interest in Christian mysticism also stems from a similar religious background. Early on, airing out resentment was essential in my efforts to “get real” with myself and God. I have known many people’s lives utterly destroyed by “their” egocentric views both religious and secular.

      I too once viewed the collective religious thought as an enemy, but let me clearly reiterate that I don’t now! That time in my life, as others have said, was during the dark night of soul. Forgiveness is letting go, beyond forgiveness there is healing that comes from God alone.

      What did the religious teachers of my youth ever do to me except offer their love and try instructing me in truth. I reflect back to all of those caring souls who selflessly gave their time and energy to plant seeds of virtue in young minds. I’m long past placing blame for their methods or holding onto shame for my disobedience.

      In God’s time, I hope to have the opportunity to share God’s love with those who still dwell in the sanctuary of my youth. Standing in front of the same baptismal tank that I was once baptized in, perchance the opportunity to baptize their hearts with silence, dark sunshine essential for the precious seeds of virtue.

  9. John P.k says:

    Gives very good insight. Inspire us to think diffrentlly. Let the seeds of virtue grow to be a big tree so that you can give shade to others.
    John P K

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