ADVENT WITH EVELYN UNDERHILL: Centering

ADVENT WITH EVELYN UNDERHILL: Centering

From The Spiritual Life

Most of our conflicts and difficulties come from trying to deal with the spiritual and practical aspects of our life separately instead of realizing them as parts of one whole.  If our practical life is centered on our own interests, cluttered up by possessions, distracted by ambitions, passions, wants, and worries, beset by a sense of our own rights and importance, or anxieties for our own future, or longings for our own success, we need not expect that our spiritual life will be a contrast to all this.  The soul’s house is not built on such a convenient plan: there are few sound-proof partitions in it.  Only when the conviction – not merely the idea – that the demand of the Spirit, however inconvenient, comes first and IS first, rules the whole of it, will those objectionable noises die down which have a way of penetrating into the nicely furnished little oratory, and drowning all the quieter voices by their din.

Saint John of the Cross, in a famous and beautiful poem, described the beginning of the journey of his soul to God:

In an obscure night
Fevered by Love’s anxiety
O hapless, happy plight
I went, none seeing me,
Forth from my house, where all things quiet be.

Not many of us could say that.  Yet there is no real occasion for tumult, strain, conflict, anxiety, once we have reached the living conviction that God is All.  All takes place within him.  He alone matters, he alone is.  Our spiritual life is his affair; because, whatever we may think to the contrary, it is really produced by his steady attraction, and our humble and self-forgetful response to it.  It consists in being drawn, at his pace and in his way, to the place where he wants us to be; not the place we fancied for ourselves.

 

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