Evelyn Underhill


Mystical Minute II: The Book that Changed my Life


Here’s the second release in my new series of “Mystical Minute” videos. The topic of this one: “the book that changed my life.” This is a brief introduction to Mysticism by Evelyn Underhill. After acknowledging that my first copy of the book (given to me by a friend when I was 18) has a hideously ugly cover, I briefly explain why this book matters to me — and why it...

Contemplative Wisdom from Evelyn Underhill, Martin Laird and Julian of Norwich


Contemplative Outreach Atlanta has just finished their first online 5-Day Retreat. Historically this retreat took place each year at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit; I’ve been a participant on the retreat, and it’s been a wonderful experience. This year, with the ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the retreat was moved to a Zoom format. The organizer of the retreat, Maggie...

A Dream and a Book (How I Learned About Christian Mysticism)


For episode 2 of my new podcast, Schola Mystica, I tell a brief story about how I first learned about Christian mysticism, beginning with a dream I had shortly after graduating from high school; a conversation with a trusted friend to try to make sense of that dream, and a book that friend recommended to me: Evelyn Underhill’s Mysticism: The Nature and Development of Spiritual Consciousness...

Wisdom During Difficult Times from Evelyn Underhill and Julian of Norwich


Today I led a day of reflection for the Mary Brewster Committee of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Ridgfield, CT. This committee is tasked with creating a retreat each year for the purpose of supporting women’s spirituality in their community. When they approached me about the retreat we decided on the theme “Wisdom During Difficult Times” to acknowledge what a...

Praying with the English Mystics


Dear friends, I have now experienced what it is like to direct a spiritual retreat online. And while it is certainly not the same thing as a retreat in person (especially at a monastery, surrounded by the atmosphere of prayer and the timeless cadences of monastic chant), it is still a way for us to pause, take a deep breath, and attend to our souls — especially in this time of pandemic and social...

Celebrating Evelyn Underhill


It was forty years ago this summer — the summer of 1979 — that I first discovered Evelyn Underhill, the British spiritual author whose writings introduced me to the beauty and splendor of Christian mysticism. To celebrate this personal anniversary, I’m reprinting here a blog post I wrote back in 2007 about her and her writing. I hope you enjoy it. It might be a bit controversial for me to...

Are Art and Mysticism Two Sides of the Same Coin?


I’ve been thinking about the relationship between contemplation and creativity. This is inspired in part by the many contemplatives who are also artists. We see this in the past — think of William Blake, or Johann Sebastian Bach, or of course poets like John of the Cross and Thomas Merton.…... Read more at Patheos

Three Evelyn Underhill Anthologies To Inspire Your Contemplative Practice


It’s no secret that I consider Evelyn Underhill one of the most important Christian mystics of the twentieth century. She’s nowhere near as well-known as Thomas Merton or Simone Weil or Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, but her contribution to Christian spirituality is as great as each of those more renowned figures. Evelyn Underhill’s biographer Dana Greene has called her an Artist...

Praying with Evelyn Underhill — and the Celtic Saints


Believe it or not, Lent is just over two weeks away. Which means it is time to select your Lenten book for devotional reading. Lent is a time for prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. According to the Rule of Saint Benedict, it’s also an ideal time for devotional reading. In The Rule of Saint Benedict we find this mandate: During this time of Lent each one is to receive a book from the library...

Happy Birthday, Evelyn Underhill


December 6 is Evelyn Underhill’s birthday, born this day in 1875. Not only did she go on to become one of the most important Christian mystics of the 20th century, but she also influenced a number of key figures who came after her, including C. S. Lewis and Thomas Merton. A Trappist monk once told me that her book Mysticism was required reading when he was a novice monk in the 1950s. A...

Why Evelyn Underhill Remains Required Reading After Over 100 Years


A Book for All Time: Why Evelyn Underhill’s Mysticism Still Matters For pretty much my entire adult life, if anyone would ask me who my favorite authors are, without hesitation I would say Evelyn Underhill and Thomas Merton. To me, the work of Evelyn Underhill represents the call for the revival of mysticism in our time, while Merton anchored the call to mysticism in the urgent political and...

Relational Contemplation


The Christian faith stands on the recognition that God is Love. Therefore, love is the heart of all spirituality, including contemplative prayer. We are called not just to be contemplatives — we are called to be relational contemplatives. Writing in the third century, the Neoplatonist philosopher Plotinus had this to say about mysticism: This is the life of gods and of the godlike and blessed...



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