A promise kept: the mystical reach through loss




Collins, Jody

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



The meaning of loss is love. I know this through attention to experience. Whether loss or love is experienced in abundance or in absence, the meaning is mystical with an opening of body, mind, heart and soul to spirit. And so, in the style of a memoir, in the way of contemplative prayer, I contemplate and share my soul as a promise kept in the mystical reach through loss. With the first, initiating loss, the loss of my nine-year-old nephew, Caleb, I experience an epiphany that gives me spiritual instructions that will not be ignored. I experience loss as an abundance of meaning that comes to me as gnosis, as “knowledge of the heart” according to Elaine Pagels or divine revelation in what Evelyn Underhill calls mystical illumination in the experience of “losing-to-find” in union with the divine. Then, with gnostic import, in leaving the ordinary for the extraordinary, I enter the empty room in the painful yet liberating experience of the loss of my self. In the embrace of emptiness, I proceed to the first wall, the second wall, the third wall, the dark corner of denial, the return to centre, and, finally, to breaking the fourth wall in the empty room so as to keep my promise to you. Who are “you”? You are God. You are Caleb. You are spirit. You are my higher soul or self. And, you are the reader. You are my dear companion in silence. And then, through a series of broken promises and more loss, within what John of the Cross calls, “the dark night of the soul,” I am stopped by the ineffability of the dark corner of denial, the horror of separation and the absence of meaning, which is depicted as the grueling gap between the spiritual abyss and the breakthrough. What does it mean to keep going through a solemn succession of losses? I don’t know. In going into the empty room, I simply put pain to work in order to reach you. Through loss, though there are infinite manifestations, there is only one way: keep going. And so, in a triumph of the spirit, I keep going so as to be: a promise kept in the mystical reach through loss. As for you, through my illumined and dark experiences of loss, what is my promise to you? I keep going to reach the unreachable you. In the loss of self, with embodied emptiness, in going into the dark corner of denial, with a return to the divine centre of my emptied self, in an invitation to you, I give my soul to you in union with you.



mystic, mysticism, apophatic, cataphatic, mystical, mystical reach, a promise kept, empty promise, broken promise, reverence, epiphany, losing-to-find, gnosis, loss, union, divine will, parsing perfection, Caleb Lanz, put pain to work, wholehearted, emptiness, the empty room, first wall, second wall, third wall, dark corner of denial, stonewall, breaking the forth wall, return to centre, Promised Land, abyss, gap, standing in the gap, void, memoir, contemplative prayer, contemplation, And so through losing him, I will now find Him everywhere, everywhere and nowhere, revelation, illumination, ineffable, ineffability, metaphor, higher self, self-giving, self-emptying, embodied emptiness, higher soul, spirit, the dark night of the soul, mystical union, God, breakthrough, infinity, infinite dynamism, spiritual instruction, invitation to spirit, paradox, symbol, eulogy, spiritual eyes, spiritual heart, looking into the slow reveal, remaining sudden, I am everywhere and nowhere, what is, what ought to be, what can be, what will be, what is as it already is, on earth as it is in heaven, no-self, unknown, spirituality