Lisa Guyla at Utne Reader’s Spirituality Blog directed my attention to an article in Boston College Magazine written by four female theologians: Lisa Sowle Cahill, Ruth Langer, M. Shawn Copeland, Patricia DeLeeuw, and Colleen Griffith. These five women talk about women in the Jewish and Christian traditions whom they consider to be their foremothers. Here is an excerpt from Colleen Griffith who wrote about Evelyn Underhill:
Perhaps her most enticing and challenging idea was that of â€œpractical mysticism.â€ For Underhill, who was always less interested in defining mysticism than in practicing it, mysticism implied a life linked to social concerns. It was the art of union with reality. As our union with God grows, so does our identification with humanity and the Earth. â€œThe riches and beauty of the spiritual landscape,â€ Underhill said, â€œare not disclosed to us in order that we might sit in the sun parlor, be grateful for the excellent hospitality, and contemplate the glorious view. . . . Our place is not the auditorium, but the stage . . . the field, workshop, study, laboratory. . . . We are the agents of the Creative Spirit, in this world.â€ Becoming a practical mystic, to her, meant simplifying oneâ€™s tangled and cluttered character and training oneâ€™s attention. Regular meditation and recollection would help.
Not many people today aspire to become practical mystics, thinking, perhaps, that mysticism remains the realm of the few, the proud, and the brave. But through Underhill, we catch sight of a spirituality of ordinary life, and the possibility of an increased capacity for union with God, the Real. This doesnâ€™t require the abstentions of the cloister, just the virtues of the golf course.
Please go and read the whole article. Tomorrow I will be posting a poem I wrote about the foremothers who have inspired me. Who inspires you?