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More or Less Church

Joanna Depue "DJ/Deacon J" writes original songs and liturgies, does daily Farm office work and records Barbara's eMos on The Geranium Farm. A singer and dog trainer she utilizes healing touch in her private massage practice. PLEASE share YOUR original ideas for worship, special liturgies, prayers, songs, sermons and noteworthy blogs right here.
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Friday, February 23, 2007

Alone with God- from the book "The Fruits of the Spirit" by Evelyn Underhill

Evelyn Underhill was born in England in 1831. Although confirmed in the Church of England, she had little formal religious training but read, wrote, prayed and meditated regularly. Her contribution to spiritual literature is filled with the conviction that the mystical life was not confined to a few extraordinary saints, but was open to anyone who would nurture the gift and make it a part of their everyday life. She wrote many books, the first of which is entitled Mysticism and the most famous of which is entitled Worship. She became an internationally respected and highly regarded lecturer and retreat director and died - at age 90 - in 1941.

This excerpt was published in book form by her late husband from individual letters she had written to others as well as talks she had given in the country and abroad. It deals with retreats.

We all know pretty well why we come into Retreat: we come to seek the opportunity of being alone with God and attending to God, in order that we may do His will better in our everyday lives. We have come to live for a few days the life of prayer and deepen our contact with the spiritual realities on which our lives depend - to recover if we can our spiritual poise. We do not come for spiritual information, but for spiritual food and air --to wait on the Lord and renew our strength-- not for our own sakes but for the sake of the world.

Now Christ, who so seldom gave detailed instruction about anything, did give some detailed instruction for that withdrawal, that recollection which is the essential condition of real prayer, real communion with God. 'Thou, when thous prayest, enter into thy closet-- and shut the door'. I think we can almost see the smile with which He said those three words: and those three words define what we have to try to do. Anyone can retire into a quiet place and have a thoroughly unquiet time in it -- but that is not making a retreat! It is the shutting of the door which makes the whole difference between a true retreat and a worried religious weekend. Shut the door. It is an extraordinary difficult thing to do. Nearly every one pulls it to and leaves it slightly ajar so that a whistling draught comes in from the outer world, with reminders of all the worries, interests, conflicts, joys and sorrows of daily life. But Chirst said SHUT, and He meant SHUT. A complete barrier deliberately set up, with you on one side alone with God and everything else without exception on the other side. The voice of God is very gentle; we cannot hear it if we let other voices compete. Our ordinary life, of course, is not lived like that and should not be; but this bit of life is to be lived like that. It is no use at all to enter that closet, that inner sanctuary, clutching the daily paper, reports of all the societies you support, your engagement book and a large bundle of personal correspondence. All these must be left outside. The motto for your retreat is GOD ONLY, GOD IN HIMSELF, SOUGHT FOR HIMSELF ALONE.
Copyright © 1982 Morehouse Barlow

While the wording is antiquated, what a marvelous model she has set up for us. The retreat director will set up a premise under which we can take these things into our hearts and shut the door and speak with our hearts to God. Along with Evelyn, I know great things can happen!


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