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Wonderful and Dark is this Road

by Emilie Griffin

What is mys­ti­cism? Why do mys­tics seem rare and strange? Who can be a mys­tic? My own notion is that we are meet­ing mys­tics every day, but we do not rec­og­nize them,” writes Emi­lie Grif­fin. Real mys­tics prac­tice their deep love and ser­vice to God in ways that may fly below the radar, unob­tru­sive­ly, trans­form­ing the lives of oth­ers in ways that seem sub­lime­ly plain-spo­ken and lev­el-head­ed.” In this fas­ci­nat­ing intro­duc­tion to mys­ti­cism, Grif­fin reveals the rich­ness and depth of mys­ti­cal spir­i­tu­al­i­ty with­in the Chris­t­ian tradition.



Some of the best writ­ers on the sub­ject of divine enlight­en­ment have been prac­ti­tion­ers like St. Tere­sa of Avi­la or Thomas Mer­ton who have both feet on the ground. In this primer on the quest for clos­er inti­ma­cy with God, Grif­fin, both a retreat leader and the author of relat­ed books (Cling­ing: the Expe­ri­ence of Prayer), offers read­ers a reas­sur­ing­ly mat­ter-of-fact guide through the bib­li­cal roots, his­to­ry and the­ol­o­gy of Chris­t­ian mys­ti­cism. Although she makes brief ref­er­ences to dervish­es, or danc­ing mys­tics, and to the Jew­ish mys­ti­cism of the kab­bal­ah, this slen­der vol­ume is clear­ly aimed at those who wish to under­stand the peo­ple, move­ments and beliefs that moti­vat­ed such diverse per­son­al­i­ties as the apos­tle Paul and the Carmelite sis­ter Thérèse of Lisieux to seek God with such pas­sion. Fre­quent for­ays into the enig­mat­ic love poet­ry of writ­ers like St. John of the Cross and the Angli­can priest George Her­bert enliv­en and fre­quent­ly illu­mine Griffin’s lucid if some­times ple­beian prose. Cred­itably, Grif­fin, her­self a Catholic con­vert, does not shrink from exam­in­ing some of the more unusu­al phe­nom­e­na, like appari­tions and stig­ma­ta, which are some­times cou­pled with mys­ti­cism and mys­tics. While Grif­fin may not com­plete­ly ful­fill her mis­sion of con­vinc­ing read­ers of every believ­er’s poten­tial for walk­ing the mys­tic path,” she has writ­ten a warm and invit­ing intro­duc­tion to a sub­ject that con­tin­ues to chal­lenge and edi­fy both the curi­ous and the devout.
Publishers Weekly

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