I truly love that last sentence. I also am consoled by the "inch by inch" point that Mathewes-Green makes.
Among Orthodox, a "champion of spiritual practice" wouldn’t necessarily mean a mystic. We don’t really have the concept of "mysticism." It would mean someone who was being taken over, inch by inch, by the flame of Christ. It’s expected that the presence of Christ is already within us, and what we have to do is get out of the way, removing fear and sin that block its spread. A spiritual athlete may have extraordinary spiritual events going on internally, but what would be seen on the outside is superhuman love, patience, humility, a presence that transforms others. Saints make everyone they meet more able to be themselves.