I’m leading a quiet garden tomorrow which seems ironic given that I’m often trying to get in touch with anger but hopefully if the weather stays it should be good. I’ve done one of these for the last two years and always used Thomas Merton but this time I’m going to use some of the writing of Evelyn Underhill. She was born in 1875 and died in 1941 – Anglican though with strong leanings towards the Roman Catholic church and she really is a very interesting person. Whilst some of her writing on the spiritual life and letters that include some on spiritual direction may initially seem old-fashioned they contain profound spiritual insights.
Evelyn Underhill thought that mysticism offers a philosophy of the world’s true meaning and that ‘the mystical life is not just a way of life some people fancy, but is truly the destiny … the crown and summit of all evolutionary processes’
She wrote that contemplative prayer is:
‘The sort of prayer that aims at God in and for Himself and not for any of His gifts whatever, and more and more profoundly rests in Him alone: what St Paul, that vivid realist meant by being rooted and grounded.’
She continues ‘When I read those words, I always think of a forest tree. First of the bright and changeful tuft that shows itself to the world, and produces the immense spread of boughs and branches, the succession and abundance of leaves and fruits. Then of the vast and unseen system of roots, perhaps greater than the branches in strength and extent, with their tenacious attachments, their fan-like system of delicate filaments and their power of secretly absorbing food. On that profound and secret life the whole growth and stability of the tree depend. It is rooted and grounded in a hidden world.’
See the Evelyn Underhill organisation to read about he life and work http://www.evelynunderhill.org/