An Improbable Mystic

From the blog of Fr Tobias Haller, “In a Godward Direction” – – an icon in watercolour pencil and an insight into Evelyn Underhill (1875-1941), author of numerous works which, in their day, introduced the ascetical life to a (then) modern audience. Her “Mysticism: A Study in the Nature and Development of Spiritual Consciousness”, first published in 1911 is often described as remaining the classic in its field.
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“Evelyn Underhill’s biography reveals an unlikely candidate for mysticism — at least as our prejudices would construct that vocation. We image the mystics (some of us do it with icons!) as desert ascetics, cloth-draped monastics, anchorites, hermits. Surely that is part of the tradition. But it is that very temptation to categorize that Evelyn sought to upset by her teaching along the lines of the children’s hymn for All Saints’ Day. From her perspective, a deeply personal one, she knew you could meet them in shops or at tea — or in Florentine museums, or on her father’s yacht. So here is a mystic not in sackcloth, but with a string of pearls. God bless her witness that the grace of God inbreaks for all who seek that mystic sweet communion, wherever, whenever, as the Ground of All Being is always present and ready to embrace the Beloved.”
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