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Mysticism in a time of lockdown

Moot has different local expressions which meet monthly and go deeper - whether by Zoom or in person. These are known as Mini Moots. Faced by a second lockdown and tangible uncertainty, our Mini Moot reflected on mysticism. Not so much, where is God in a time of pandemic? but what does "God" even mean. St John of the Cross and the Dark Night of the Soul kicked things off but two of us have a passion for a book which explores the wisdom of the earliest Christian writings, The Roots of Christian Mysticism by Olivier Clément. Could I reach into this book and pull out an occasional thought of the day? I was asked. Here goes:

"Every concept formed by the intellect in an attempt to comprehend and circumscribe the divine nature can succeed only in fashioning an idol, not in making God known", wrote the fourth century Gregory of Nyssa. God remains essentially hidden, incomprehensible, mysterious. Reason alone can not bring us to a knowledge of the divine. This is nothing new but Gregory also affirmed that humankind is in the image of God. Gregory therefore concludes, not that we know God by knowing our fellow human, but that human kind remains as undefinable as God. We cannot fully know someone and neither can we have power over them any more than we have power over God.

It is easy to desire that knowledge, why did someone vote in this way, react in that way? And just as we have no power to get God to intervene in a pandemic, so also attempts to coerce deny the humanity of the oppressed and corrode the humanity of the oppressor. For Gregory, the pinnacle of all biblical books is the Song of Songs reflecting the passion of the divine and the human soul. But even in the passion of love, lovers remain essentially mysterious to one another.


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