June 14, 2013

Mystic on the Water

O God, Origin, Sustainer, and End of all your creatures: Grant that your Church, taught by your servant Evelyn Underhill, guarded evermore by your power, and guided by your Spirit into the light of truth, may continually offer to you all glory and thanksgiving and attain with your saints to the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have promised by our Savior Jesus Christ; who with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG


June Butler said...

Lovely icon of a lovely woman, Tobias. I think of her words:

"God is always coming to you in the Sacrament of the Present Moment. Meet and receive Him there with gratitude in that sacrament."

The wisdom of practical mystics is much needed in every age. I think of Brother Lawrence who said that God was no more present to him when he was in adoration in the chapel than when he was bustling about in his kitchen.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Thanks, Mimi. Thank God for the Saints of the Everyday! Lawrence is one of my favorites --- and I often think of him when doing the dishes or gardening...