Evelyn Underhill

(From the book: Devotional Classics, Ed. by Foster and Smith)

Because we live under two orders, we are at once a citizen of Eternity and of Time. Like a pendulum, our consciousness moves perpetually– or should move if it is healthy– between God and our neighbor, between this world and that.

The wholeness, sanity and balance of our existence depend entirely upon the perfection of our adjustment to this double situation…

I loved this description, because it fits so well with what I’ve experienced. The swinging back and forth has always happened as I’ve felt drawn to God and returned (or pulled) to my earthly work. Yes, we’re dual citizens, and I suppose some people can walk in both at once, but having this different image was very helpful to me.

In our natural life we need to use all of them [the thinking faculty, the feeling faculty and the will or acting faculty]. Do we need all of them in our spiritual life, too? Christians are bound to answer this question in the affirmative. It is the whole person of intellect, of feeling, and of will which finds its only true objective in the Christian God….

Prayers should be the highest exercise of these powers; for here they are directed at the only adequate object of thought, of love and of desire. It should, as it were, lift us to the top of our condition, and represent the fullest flowering of our consciousness… attain[ing] according to our measure that communion with Reality for which we were made.

Ah! To live with this reality: that our interaction with God is the fulfillment of all we were created for, using the best of everything God has given us.

Evelyn has much more to say (she wrote a number of books– all still going for top-dollar on Amazon, which will tell you something about demand), but I especially appreciate how she includes the intellect as a part of the process of prayer– the best place, in fact, to start.

There are some who believe that when we turn to God we ought to leave our brains behind us. True, they will soon be left behind by necessity if we go far on the road towards God who is above all reason and all knowledge, for the Spirit swiftly overpasses these imperfect instruments.

But those whose feet are still firmly planted on earth gain nothing by anticipating this moment when reason is left behind; they will not attain the depths of prayer by the mere annihilation of their intelligence.

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