Mystic Mondays August 29, 2016
You are the sun. I am the moon.
You are the words. I am the tune.
Play me. Neil Diamond
I was reminded in a response to my post last week (which I’ll publish in coming weeks) that many people discover their mystical experiences in the intimacy of relationships as much as in nature.
I remember when I was teaching a class on Christian mysticism nearly ten years ago that I asked about where people had experienced those moments when the veil between heaven and earth had been lifted. Most related experiences in nature. But one woman who had to have been considered one of the more religiously devout in the congregation shared something different. She said that it was in the frequent visits she made to members and friends who were isolated in nursing homes. That intimate time of prayer and touching was when she felt God most near. Immediately the mysticism of Mother Teresa came to mind as she often spoke of seeing the face of Christ on every dying patient she worked with in her Missionaries of Charity organization.
I often speak of those sacred encounters that I have when I am immersed in a canopied forest hiking or cycling along a stream on a perfect day. But I recognize that while I and many people are rediscovering the mystical impulse of God in nature that it is not limited to the dirt, the sky, and the sun that bless us every day. In fact, I do wonder if the focus on nature these days is simply a reaction to the perception that God is supposed to be found in a building on Sunday morning at 10 a.m. In some ways the hyper-focus on rediscovering God in the good Earth may say less about mysticism and more about one of the liabilities of the church.
Mysticism isn’t really about nature exclusively. It’s about connection and oneness and the dissolving away of the lines between heaven and earth. It’s about seeing life as a dance and a love affair between the human and her partner, the divine.
Neil Diamond captures this mystical quality in his tender love song, “Play Me” as he writes, “You are the sun. I am the moon. You are the words. I am the tune. Play me.” More than just beautiful poetry that is supposed to make every woman’s knees buckle, Diamond, in just a few words, writes a complete description of the mystical experience of being in relationship. No two hundred page self help book could say it any better or more completely.
I grew up thinking that such poetic imagery was just that–poetic imagery. “You are the sun. I am the moon,” were just fanciful ways to express one’s love. Poetry was not literal; it was just a way to make a woman’s heart melt. (I wished I had been better at it forty years ago!)
I no longer feel that way. When I hear the phrase, “You are the words. I am the tune,” I hear an almost literal truth that couldn’t be said better any way. How does one capture a love that erases the boundary between one person and another, yet recognizes that the song that they sing together could only be arranged by their differences and individuality? How does one say any better than Neil Diamond did with regard to a full-bodied, soulful, forever commitment, “Play me. Play me. Play me.” He says it all. He says I am yours. You are mine. Let’s you and I make beautiful music together…because we are the literal song of God!
You may think that I am crazy, but the mystic’s eyes get opened when poetry no longer is just metaphorical. The heart of the mystic opens up when poetic imagery is not just a literary device to touch the heart. The mystic’s world explodes wide open when the sun, the moon, and the words and the tune really are you. Science teaches us that all objects are separate. Our mystical traditions remind us that nothing is separate. All is connected.
The mystic believes that love is not really just between two people as if they own the love between them. No, their love is really just a reflection and an expression of the divine love that pulses through all of life.
We don’t just choose to love as if it is a moral mandate. No, we fall into the divine love and, if we are lucky, we never escape.