Mystics, Rebels and Prophets for Today

Encountering God in the Modern World


Edwina Gateley in Norwich

11th and 12th October 2012


As report by Diana Cooke     Diana-1

Edwina Gateley is a modern-day mystic, poet and story-teller. She came to St Luke’s in October and those of us who attended soon realised what a privilege it was to be part of her two day work-shop.

On the first morning, Edwina shared her unusual story with great humour and passion.  She was brought up in a Catholic family in Lancashire and, from an early age, wanted to serve God.  She determined and, against all the ecclesiastical odds, succeeded in establishing a Voluntary Missionary Movement for lay people. She spent time in Uganda as a lay missionary herself and, subsequently, lived on her own for several months seeking the will of God in the Sahara Desert.  This led to her unexpected move to Chicago where she set up a refuge for prostitutes.

In the afternoon, Edwina spoke about Mysticism which she said should 'put us right at the heart of the world, rather than separate us from it'.  She illustrated this notion with several moving cameos about the characters she had met 'on the streets'.  These included incarnational moments such as a 'wino' in whom she recognised the Son of God; along with Eucharistic moments, like sitting on the steps outside a Church with the 'bag ladies' and sharing (scavenged) buns and lemonade together.

As well as practical outreach, Edwina suggested that the mystical life calls us to be counter-cultural and, through contemplation, enables us to become more aware, or conscious, of our surroundings and the presence of God's Grace.  

To help us along this path, on the second day, she showed us images of a number of female mystics on whose ‘shoulders we can stand’ and who are like ‘drops of God’ (as we can be) in God’s wide ocean.  She focussed on three in particular - Rachel Carson, Pema Chodron & Emily Dickinson.  Using her own powerful poems, Edwina demonstrated how these women had forged new possibilities and provided a foundation for us on which to build our own mystical experience.   There was also a short DVD about the process of evolution, after which she talked about our connectivity and emphasized the ‘consciousness of awe’ that is common to all mystics.

Following opportunities for questions and discussion, along with times of silence, we all left enriched and challenged by Edwina’s example of living a gospel life.

To order tapes of the event, please click here