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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