CHRISTMAS WITH EVELYN UNDERHILL: The Example Of The Christ Child
From Light of Christ
The mystics keep telling us that the goal of that prayer and the goal of that hidden life which should itself become more and more of a prayer, is “union with God.” We use that phrase often, much too often to preserve the wholesome sense of its awe-fulness. For what does union with God mean? It is not a nice feeling we get in devout moments. That may or may not be a by-product of union – probably not. It can never be its substance. Union with God means every bit of our human nature transfigured in Christ, woven up into his creative life and activity, absorbed into his redeeming purpose, heart, soul, mind, and strength. Each time it happens it means that one of God’s creatures has achieved its destiny.
And if men and women want to know what that means in terms of human nature, what it costs and what it becomes, there is only one way – contemplation of the life of Christ. Then we see that we grow in wisdom and stature not just for our own sakes – just to become spiritual – but that his teaching, healing, life-giving power may possess us and work through us; that we may lose our own lives and find his life, be conformed to the pattern shown in him, conformed to the Cross. Those are the rich and costly demands and experiences that lie before us as we look at the Child setting up a standard for both simple and teamed, teaching the secrets of life; and what they ask from us on our side and from our prayer is a very great simplicity, self-oblivion, dependence and suppleness, a willingness and readiness to respond to life where it finds us and to wait, to grow and change, not according to our preconceived notions and ideas of pace, but according to the overruling will and pace of God.
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