This paperback marks Carl McColman's third book of a trilogy on Christian mysticism after The Big Book of Christian Mysticism and Christian Mystics: 108 Seers, Saints, and Sages. It is divided into 33 sections, making it into the kind of book you can read a few pages at a time. In the introduction, the author suggests that the intent is "to invite you into the contemplative consciousness of the mystics through short, pithy quotations, intended to engage your intuitive heart rather than your discursive mind."
In Part One on Purification, McColman sets the mood for opening to the deep and rich meanings here with this gem about yearning as the key to the spiritual life:
"Every heart shelters within it a place of infinite longing. The German word for this is schnsucht — which suggests a longing that is painful yet beautiful, so lovely that the ache of the yearning is itself a fulfillment. Alas, we live in such a noisy world, clanging with the chaos of our distracted minds and restless passions, so we often remain oblivious to our deepest yearning. Yet when we slow down and silence ourselves enough to recognize this desire for something that we cannot put into words, life will never be the same. We will follow that silent whisper in our hearts forever."
Part Two focuses on Illumination, covering gratitude, memory, abandonment, vision, expanded awareness, and other themes. Part Three on Divinization encourages reflection on silence, mystical unknowing, non-attachment, letting go, and other themes.
Here are a few teachings from the many saints and seers included in this profound little book.
- "What can be a greater vision that this: to see the invisible God in a visible person." -- Pachomius
- "Look upon yourself as the servant of all: see Christ in others and you will show them respect and reverence." -- Teresa of Avila
- "Philosophers are not only those that contemplate happiness, but practice virtue." — Thomas Traherne
- "Love begets a likeness between the lover and the beloved." – John of the Cross
- "Let your mouth constantly speak words of blessing, then the scorn of another will never hurt you. Disdain gives birth to disdain, blessing to blessing." – Isaac the Syrian
- "The real mystical life, which is the truly practical life, begins at the beginning; not with supernatural acts and ecstatic apprehension, but with the normal faculties of the normal man. 'I do not require of you,' says Teresa to her pupils in meditation, 'to form great and curious considerations in your understanding. I require of you no more than to look.' " – Evelyn Underhill
- "Everything is possible for one who believes, still more for one who hopes, even more for one who loves, and most of all for one who practices and perseveres in these three virtues." – Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection