Mystics, in all religious traditions, will tell you God is within. Saint Augustine of Hippo, Bishop and Doctor of the Church, was undoubtedly a mystic. His greatest desire was to know “two things only, God and the soul.” For him, God was remote, distant and mysterious as well as powerfully and unceasingly present in all times and places. “Totus bique’ was Augustine’s oft-repeated mantra for this doctrine, “The whole of him everywhere.” St. Augustine – Augustine’s spirit and achievement | Britannica
Augustine was mindful through study, brilliant writing, sermons, deep awareness. And of prayer, he said, “Prayer is the key that opens heaven; the favors we ask descend upon us the very instant our prayers ascend to God.”
Many years ago, I decided to pursue a career as a fulltime writer, so I quit my job as a chemist and stayed home to write. One memory that sticks with me of those early days was my inability to slow down. I was accustomed to working full time and running a household: after work, I’d fly through the grocery store at a breakneck pace, speed home, cook a meal, clean up dishes, clean the house, grew a large garden, canned veggies, took care of my horses, dogs and cats, and never took time to reflect about what was important. Well, it all was! On one occasion I was on a lawn tractor driving it as fast as it would go, spinning around curves on two wheels in a hurry to get done, not noticing the fragrance of fresh mown grass, unaware of a cloudless or of a stormy sky, always lost in planning other things. And it wasn’t as if I didn’t have plenty of time, now that I no longer had to go out to my job, to complete my chores. And it wasn’t as if I had groundbreaking literary ideas that needed to be immediately published. What I needed was to take time to appreciate each precious and holy moment. I needed to become mindful.
Mystics such as Augustine came to recognize “totus bique’ his oft-repeated mantra as “the whole ofhim (God) everywhere.” We have our ideas of what God is, but God is not the white-bearded Santa in the sky any more than God is a stooped old crone carrying her basket of clothes. God/Goddess might be pleasant representations, and maybe God is a crone or a wizened old geezer or both and much more too, but a richer way to experience and understand God is through your perceptions and through your daily life.
Be mindful. Slow down. Listen to birds singing and watch them on the wing, smell rain and
catch snowdrops on your tongue, savor sausages and brown beans. Appreciate friends. Books. Work. Everything. Even difficult and unwanted aspects of life move us to an awareness of the sacred within. When we cry over loss, feel hurt, experience pain for the brokenness of human beings, and suffer over the violation of the earth, take time to pray and seek empowerment to become a force of love. Becoming mindful is a centering prayer practice to help us deepen awareness. We do not have to be theological geniuses to notice that becoming mindful helps us to notice the wonder of life and recognize our connection to all that is holy.
Be mindful and experience God everywhere all the time.
As THEMA Editor, Christina will offer a regular column in future issues.
Rev. Christina St Clair was born and raised in London, England. She came to the United States when she was eighteen and is a U.S. citizen. Her passionate interest in spirituality led her from Eastern meditation to become a follower of Christ. She earned degrees in philosophy and pastoral ministry. She eventually pastored two Protestant churches (United Methodist and Presbyterian). She is a certified spiritual director from West Virginia Institute for Spirituality and practices Reiki distant healing which is like intercessory prayer.
Her latest historically accurate novel, Naomi and Ruth; Loyalty Among Women, is intended for women of all religious persuasions or none.