After the first effects of enlargement, connection, or union, and some degree of emancipation, mystical experiences lead to a kind of foundational optimism. You would usually call it hope. You wonder where it comes from, especially in the middle of all the terrible things that are happening in the world. Hope is not logical, but a “participation in the very life of God” (just like faith and love, which were called “theological virtues” as opposed to virtues acquired by practice, temperament, or willpower). That doesn’t mean we should not practice being hopeful, but it is still not a matter of pure willpower. Faith, hope, and love are always somehow a gift—a cooperation with Someone Else, a participation in Something Larger than me.
The next descriptor I’d like to add is a sense of safety and security. If you can’t feel safe with a person, deep love cannot really happen. If, in the presence of God, you don’t feel safe and even protected, then I don’t think it is God—it is something else. It’s a god that is not God. It’s probably what Meister Eckhart is referring to when he says, “I pray God to rid me of God.” He means that the God we all begin with is necessarily a partial God, an imitation God, a word for God, a “try-on” God. But as you go deeper into the journey, I promise you, you will always be more naturally hopeful (even when you don’t feel it!) and you will usually sense a deep safety and security (even when your mental ego momentarily presents scenarios of doom).
Following the Mystics Through the Narrow Gate
. . . Seeing God in All Things
(CD, DVD, MP3)