Updated: Sep 2, 2021
The spiritual world is full of mystics, those who have reached such a depth of spirituality and awakening that they serve as inspiration and teachers to us all. Many, centuries later, inspire the seeker through words and imagery. Rumi, St. Hildegarde, Buddha, LaoTzu, and many others have been recognized as individuals who have reached a state of union with the divine that so many seek. While some mystics are associated with religion, many are not, but have left behind through teachings and poetry inspiring works for us all. Mystics have a different way of being, doing and looking at this world.
One of the common threads among mystics is the search for meaning, the big question of “Why Am I here?” There is a natural curiosity that comes with mysticism, of questioning why each of us exists, the purpose and meaning behind life. And yet, Mystics are also comfortable with the unknown! Not knowing the truth behind what each person is alive, mystics are drawn by the questions, by the seeking, by the inquiry to which there is no answer in this world.
Personal growth is a part of this exploration. A part of the seeking for the truth that allows the mystic to connect with parts of themself that may often go untouched. There are not necessarily any answers but there are lots of questions and the mystic goes deep to ask and explore life’s most intriguing questions. The rabbit hole without any bottom, no way out of the cave, that is where the mystics live comfortably in the unexplainable.
There is also an inner knowing of the connection between the person and all of life, all sentient beings connected in a way that is unexplainable. Mystics believe and live by that connection to each other person, to nature , to animals and to all living beings.
Studying mystics when I was in seminary led me down the path of offering spiritual direction as a service, and through my offerings I companion spiritual seekers through inquiry of lifes’s sometimes unanswerable questions. At its core, spiritual direction is a companionship process that brings you down a path of self awareness and inner knowing. Taking care of your soul, your essence, your spirit and uncovering those truths within, are the spiritual direction journey.
As an example, one of my directees, Allen, reached our for spiritual companionship after retirement. Divorced and without a life partner, Allen was not sure how to move into the next period of his life. Raised without the formality of a religion, he was always drawn to nature and found his travels taking him to state parks and wilderness areas. But what was he to do now?
Allen sought out spiritual direction as a way to evaluate where he was on his life journey, and explore the questions of “is there more?” Working with Allen in ongoing spiritual direction, we explored many topics. Starting with an understanding of his spiritual life map. While not raised in any traditional religion, Allen always felt there was something guiding us all, although he could not name it and had no framework for it. Allen explored key moments in his life that had some spiritual meaning, and as part of that work created a sense of what the divine meant for him.
Through inquiry, sitting in silence, meditation and other creative activities, Allen emerged with a deep connection to the earth. He explored his connection to cultures that were original to the land he grew up on. He found himself drawn to not only spending time in nature, but finding the healing, restorative energy that forests bring as gifts to us all.
Allen also did not know much about his family, generations past. By investigating and studying past generations, he learned much about himself. With a newfound respect for all his ancestors endured, Allen now lives as part of a continuum, what has gone before him as well as who will live after him. His relationship with his children and grandchildren have evolved as he seeks to share this knowledge and understanding that our ancestors are always with us.
Through sessions of contemplation, exploration, and questioning, Allen has embarked on embracing his love for nature and bringing it to others. Unexpectedly, he has met others like him, forged new friendships and new possibilities that he never expected. This next phase of Allen’s life has a meaning that goes beyond words, he has found joy in simplicity, beauty in every season and in energized in sharing that with others.
Maintaining client confidentiality, I have changed the name and some details of Allen’s journey. But his experience is not unusual; those who seek out spiritual counseling are often looking for something deeper, something beneath the surface. Ordained by One Spirit Interfaith Seminary, and as a certified Interspiritual Counselor (May 2021), I currently offer sessions virtually. You can learn more about me at www.lauriingram.com, or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally published in Natural Nutmeg Magazine, May/June, 2021.