Just like last year, we will start this year with a book that helps us to fulfill our New Year’s resolutions. Many people say that they want to pursue having a closer relationship with God in the New Year. However, many people also have no clue how to do that. They often resolve to goals of praying more or reading their Bibles more. While these can push us in the right direction, do these practices truly push us to have a deeper relationship with God? Enter Becoming an Ordinary Mystic: Spirituality for the Rest of Us by Albert Haase. Haase is an experienced Fransican friar with experience as a missionary in mainland China and as a spiritual director. This month’s book was released by IVP in August of 2019, and it shows us that spirituality is not something attained by the spiritual elite, but is accessible for all of us.
In my experience, when people here the word “mysticism,” they are immediately turned away from some kind of unorthodox spiritualism, or very curious as Christian mystics are largely ignored in Protestant conversations. In his introduction, Haase defines mysticism as “living with sensitivity to the divine presence and responding to God’s ardent longing and enthusiastic inviation to a deeper relationship at this very moment…” In other words, this kind of spirituality is the kind that I feel many people are looking for but do not have the words to describe it. Haase walks his reader through the ways of practicing this type of spirituality. Chapters include topics to help the reader understand what it means to be sensitive to the promptings of God, and training yourself to be in a place where sensitivity is possible; including mindful living. There is even special care given to practicing spirituality when you simply do not want to continue, or feel distant from God.
“Ordinary mystics are always watching for the myriad ways God invites them to a deeper relationship.”
Personally, I found this book to be quite helpful in trying to understand spiritual practices. I have spent the last couple of years really studying spiritual formation as part of my academic career. I thought that this book was highly accessible, and keeps the reader from feeling like spirituality is for monks living in the desert. It is a quick easy read that I would recommend to anyone who is seeking to have a deeper relationship with God, and I have even recommended it to some professors who teach spiritual formation for consideration to add to their course material. Pick yourself up a copy of this book and give yourself a guide to deepen your relationship with God this year.