"Many people today are drawn to mystics for inspiration and transformation. They offer a message of wholeness and healing, of harmony, peace, and joy also of immense struggles fought and won," writes Ursula King, a professor of theology and religious studies at the University of Bristol in England and author of Spirit of Fire: The Life and Vision of Teilhard de Chardin. She is convinced that there are many Christian mystics who can speak across the centuries with important messages to us about faith, spiritual knowledge, yearning for union with God, asceticism, divinization, and service of others. In this sturdy and salutary volume, King introduces 60 examples of Christian mysticism whose lives and legacies can deepen and enrich our spiritual journeys.
The author singles out Clement of Alexander as the first to speak extensively of human divinization or becoming like God as the goal of Christian perfection. King salutes one of the major contributions of Bernard of Clairvaux as using both masculine and feminine qualities in speaking of God. She praises Julian of Norwich for presenting "one of the clearest yet most complex records of the life of a mystical soul." There is an interesting link between George Fox, the founder of the Society of Friends who spoke about the God-given inward light, and Symeon the New Theologian whose mysticism used the symbolism of light to speak about union with God.
Today's mysticism is pluriform and moves on many different levels. Many who choose to follow this path are emphasizing the deep connection between contemplation and action. We expect to see more of this kind of worldly mysticism in the future. Of course, the Christians of yesteryear still have much to offer us: "The richness of these mystics is as inexhaustible as God's life and spirit itself. Their example can give us peace, joy, zest for life and a depth of meaning that we so desperately need."