If someone had asked me five years ago if I were a “mystic,” I wouldn’t have understood what they were asking. A mystic! What the heck is that? Would a mystic be someone like that guy Merlin the Magician in Camelot, who performs weird alchemical tricks with batwings and bitter herbs? Then one day I met a mystic. He was unlike anyone I’d ever met before. Here was a person who told me with complete certainty that he knows God — not in some abstract way, but that he actually sees, hears, feels and knows God! And the thing is, this guy exuded so much light and peace that I believed he might actually be telling me the truth. This was something to ponder. My Presbyterian Sunday School teacher had never told me anything like this! Curious, I kept going back to see this mystic. I wanted to know if it were really possible for a person to know God, and if so, was it possible for us all, or for just a few special people? The mystic told me that God gives us all the same ability to know God. He said that it would be “unfair” of God to give this ability to only a select few. This was another new concept: God is fair. Suddenly I was aware of a yearning inside me. Here I was, living a “good” life with friends, money, romance, and comfort, and none of it satisfied a hunger inside me that couldn’t be filled with anything but God. I needed a spiritual connection. That’s when I made the decision to step on “the path.” I chose to become a student at a school for Christian mysticism and see where it took me. And boy, has it been an incredible journey! I’ve been studying the mystery teachings, learning how to fill my body with light, meditating with God every morning and night, contemplating the inner meaning of the gospels, and meeting with my teacher every two weeks to bare my heart, mind and soul. I’ve been learning that God’s love is real, personal, and completely transformational. And now, I’m doing something I never would have believed possible: I am leaving my beautiful home in Riverwest to move into a mansion where I will live with other students in a “novice” program. This means I will take a vow of humility, celibacy and obedience to my teacher. I’ll share meals, household chores, and daily prayers with the other novices. I will still maintain a full, active life in the world, but through the intensive and loving training of the novitiate program I’ll learn to create an empowered, abundant, and joyful life. I am filled with joy and excitement about this move! I’m so excited that I will be sleeping right next door to the chapel. I’m joyful that I will be living with other people who have given their beings to this same quest for God. I’m hopeful that this move will lead me to the ultimate goal: to know the freedom of a constant state of connection with the God at the center of my being. I know, because I have seen it in others, that this goal is reachable. So my fellow students and I are busy painting and sanding and dry-walling our new Center of Light: God has given us a mansion. Many of us will live there and many more will come on a regular basis to study and worship. One by one, each person who chooses to walk the path will experience for themselves the truth about the universe. Each one will learn to rest in the peace of the eternal now. Carol Rathe has been a student at the Milwaukee Center of Light for more than four years. Her first teacher was the mystic, Father Peter Bowes. She will soon be moving from Riverwest into the new Center at the historical Sanford Kane Mansion, 1841 N. Prospect Ave. The Center will hold a Grand Opening the weekend of February 18, 19 and 20. To learn more about Christian Mysticism and the Center of Light, visit www.orderofchristsophic.org.