ADVENT WITH EVELYN UNDERHILL: God’s Agents In The Real World

ADVENT WITH EVELYN UNDERHILL: God's Agents In The Real World

From The Spiritual Life

We are the agents of the Creative Spirit in this world.  Real advance in the spiritual life, then, means accepting this vocation with all it involves.  Not merely turning over the pages of an engineering magazine and enjoying the pictures, but putting on overalls and getting on with the job.  The real spiritual life must be horizontal as well as vertical; spread more and more.  It must be larger, richer, fuller, more generous in its interests than the interests of the natural life alone can ever be; must invade and transform all homely activities and practical things.  For it means an offering of life to the Father of life, to whom it belongs; a willingness – an eager willingness – to take our small place in the vast operations of his Spirit instead of trying to run a poky little business on our own.

So now we come back to this ordinary mixed life of every day, in which we find ourselves – the life of house and work, tube and airplane, newspaper and cinema, wireless and television, with its tangle of problems and suggestions and demands – and consider what we are to do about that; how, within its homely limitations, we can cooperate with the Will.  It is far easier, though not very easy, to develop and preserve a spiritual outlook on life, than it is to make our everyday actions harmonize with that spiritual outlook.  That means trying to see things, persons, and choices from the angle of eternity; and dealing with them as part of the material in which the Spirit works.  This will be decisive for the way we behave as to our personal, social, and national obligations.  It will decide the papers we read, the movements we support, the kind of administrators we vote for, our attitude to social and international justice.  For though we may renounce the world for ourselves, refuse the attempt to get anything out of it, we have to accept it as the sphere in which we are to cooperate with the Spirit, and try to do the Will.  Therefore the prevalent notion that spirituality and politics have nothing to do with one another is the exact opposite of the truth.  Once it is accepted in a realistic sense, the Spiritual Life has everything to do with politics.  It means that certain convictions about God and the world become the moral and spiritual imperatives of our life; and this must be decisive for the way we choose to behave about that bit of the world over which we have been given a limited control.

 

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