LENT: The Two Loves by Evelyn Underhill

The Two Loves by Evelyn Underhill

From Concerning the Inner Life

There is a wonderful chapter in Ruysbroeck’s Book of the Twelve Béguines in which he describes the life of one who has achieved this state, as “ministering to the world without in love and in mercy; whilst inwardly abiding in simplicity, in stillness, and in utter peace.”  Reading it, we remember that it was said of Ruysbroeck himself, that supreme mystic, that during the years in which he was a parish priest in Brussels, he went to and fro in the streets of the city “with his mind perpetually lifted up into God.”  He was ministering to the world without in love and mercy; whist inwardly abiding in simplicity, stillness, and utter peace.  Action, effort, and tension, then, are to be the outward expression and substance of such a life of spiritual creativeness; yet all this is to hang on and be nurtured by an inward abidingness in simplicity, stillness, and peace.  We are called upon to carry the Eternal and Unchanging right through every detail of our changeful active life, because and by means of our daily secret recourse to and concentration upon it.  Is it not in practicing this lovely and costly art, gradually getting at home with it, that we more and more transmute and deify the very substance even of our temporal life? thus more and more doing the special work of the human soul, as a link between the worlds of spirit and sense.

In other words: Our deepest life consists in a willed correspondence with the world of Spirit, and this willed correspondence, which is prayer, is destined to fulfill itself along two main channels; in love towards God and in love towards humanity – two loves which at last and at their highest become one love.  Sooner or later, in varying degrees, the power and redeeming energy of God will be manifested through those who thus reach out in desire, first towards Him, and then toward other souls.  And we, living and growing personalities, are required to become ever more and more spiritualized, ever more and more persuasive, more and more deeply real; in order that we may fulfill this divine purpose.

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