Inexperienced motorists

Daily Reading for August 29

The first recommendation tonight is: don’t let us waste much time gazing at ourselves. A deepened and enriched sense of God is far more important than increased and detailed knowledge of the self. God, our redeemer and sustainer, is all and does all, and is the one Reality. Life comes with such thoughts. Plunging more deeply in him with faith and love will do more than self-concerned efforts. We can do nothing of ourselves but depress ourselves and get fussy.

Don’t behave like the inexperienced motorist who goes for a drive and spends all day lying in the road under the machine examining the works. The soul is a delicate and intricate machine. When it needs pulling to pieces, it is best to leave it to God. Our prayer should be that of Saint Augustine: “The house of my soul is narrow. Enlarge it, so that you may enter in. It stands in ruins: do you repair it and make it fair.”

First to last, put all emphasis on God. Attend to him. Forget yourselves if you can. Bathe in his light. Respond to the unmatched attraction. Be energized by his power. Try to realize a little of the perpetual molding action of his Spirit on your souls.

Have you ever seen the popular experiment of iron filings in the field of a magnet? Those little specks of matter are nothing in themselves, but when they are placed in the field of a magnet, each becomes a centre of energy, instantly influenced by an invisible power. They align themselves parallel to the lines of the magnet’s force.

From The Ways of the Spirit by Evelyn Underhill, quoted in Wisdom of the Cloister: A Monastic Reader, edited by John Skinner (Image Books, 1999).

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