The Wisdom of the English Mystics by Robert Way (Sheldon Press £1.75)
Everybody genuinely serving God must have had some mystical experience of some sort at some time or other, even if it be the humble sense of comfort and awareness of the caring of God after a good confession.
Cynics explain it otherwise, but only the individual can know this consciousness of God's nearness which anyway cannot be described.
Mystics in the strictest sense are those who have been graced and guided to maintain and nurture such experience which becomes the unselving of the self through love of God.
The great Continental mystics are as well known as those of the East: our ov.n native brand far less.
Robert Way's small anthology will rectify that situation somewhat, for here we have passages and quotations from the English mystics, Catholic and otherwise, from the 12th century to our own. Wisdom they certainly have, but there is a homeliness about it which pleasantly coats the pill.
"The Cloud of Unknowing" and the "Ancrene Riwle" recur again and again, as do Julian of Norwich, Marjery Kempe and Richard Rolle. They all say the same thing in different ways as, in their occasional flashes of intuition, do Wordsworth, Evelyn Underhill, T. S. Eliot and others, also included in the volume: Faith is a ray of darkness requiring great love and undeflecting hope.
The "Ancrene Riwle" gives sound advice: to cackle about it all like a hen is to invite trouble; better to imitate the men at the mill. If necessary. let the floodgates of the mouth open a little and soon be let down again.
And no violent strainings, either. because, as "The Cloud" has it: "They hurt the silly soul sorely and make it tester in fantasies feigned by fiends."