"That you are here--that life exists, and identity;
That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse." ~~ From "O Me! O Life!" by Walt Whitman
I remember being at work a few years ago and being jolted by an experience that thrust me into discerning a possible vocation to the priesthood. It was not the type of mystical experience that is characterized by the serenity and ecstasy that so many mystics recount, but rather it was an acute, and profound awareness that I existed, that the universe existed, and that the words from Scripture were not mere symbols on paper, but living, inexorable testamentations of the existence of God. I automatically associated this experience with the image of Jesus Christ, and his mother Mary.
I was outside in the open when this experience occurred, and the sky was clear and blue. Having always possessed an interest in the dialogue between science and religion, I looked up at the sky began to ponder the vast, incomprehensible immensity of all Creation. The idea that I should travel this universe until the end of time, for eons and eons and eons and find no end to it was both mesmerizing and terrifying, for I became cognizant of the fact that I was dealing with qualities infinitely more powerful than I was. I know this is going to sounds silly and exaggerated, but for sometime after this initial experience I was unable to look up at the sky without apprehension.
I have never shared this story with anyone before, not even with my vocations' director, Father Tony. Although the sensation of the experience eludes me, off and on the experience returns but with a variation of the original experience, and maybe not quite as powerful. But these "openings" (to paraphrase Reynolds Price) can surge at any given moment, even while doing the most medial of tasks, and they no longer have to happen in the outdoors.
Today, one of these similar experiences surfaced while I was at a bookstore reaching for a book. It was like waking from a deep sleep. These words rang profoundly in me and left me semi-concussed: "I am here. He exists. Life is not a dream."
If you've ever had an experience that you would describe as mystical, please share.