ADVENT WITH EVELYN UNDERHILL: Spiritual Life

ADVENT WITH EVELYN UNDERHILL: Spiritual Life

From The School of Charity

A genuine inner life must make us more and more sensitive to that molding power, working upon his creation at every level, not at one alone: and especially to the constant small but expert touches, felt in and through very homely events, upon those half-made, unsteady souls which are each the subject of his detailed care.  A real artist will give as much time and trouble to a miniature two inches square, as to the fresco on the cathedral wall.  The true splendor and heart-searching beauty of the Divine Charity is not seen in those cosmic energies which dazzle and confound us; but in the transcendent power which stoops to an intimate and cherishing love, the grave and steadfast Divine action, sometimes painful and sometimes gentle, on the small unfinished soul.

We are so busy rushing about, so immersed in what we call practical things, that we seldom pause to realize the mysterious truth of our situation: how little we know that really matters, how completely our modern knowledge leaves the deeps of our existence unexplored.  We are inclined to leave all that out.  Christ never left it out.  His teaching has a deep recurrent note of awe, a solemn sense of God and the profound mysteries of God: his abrupt creative entrance into every human life, coming to us, touching us, changing us in every crisis, grief, shock, sacrifice, flashing up on life’s horizon like lightning just when we had settled down on the natural level, and casting over the landscape a light we had never dreamed of before.  The whole teaching of Christ hinges on the deep mystery and awful significance of our existence; and God, as the supreme and ever-present factor in every situation, from the tiniest to the most universal.  The span of his understanding goes from the lilies of the field to the most terrible movements of history.  He takes in all the darkness and anxiety of our situation, whether social or personal; and within and beyond all, he finds the creative action of God, the one Reality, the one Life, working with a steadfast and unalterable love, sometimes by the direct action of circumstance and sometimes secretly within each soul in prayer.  And this creative action, so hidden and so penetrating, is the one thing that matters in human life.

 

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