Evelyn Underhill: Look

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Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. Colossians 4:2

“Recollection begins, she says, in the deliberate and regular practice of meditation; a perfectly natural form of mental exercise, though at first a hard one. Now meditation is a half-way house between thinking and contemplating: and as a discipline, it derives its chief value from this transitional character. The real mystical life, which is the truly practical life, begins at the beginning; not with supernatural acts and ecstatic apprehensions, but with the normal faculties of the normal man. “I do not require of you,” says Teresa to her pupils in meditation, “to form great and curious considerations in your understanding: I require of you no more than to look.”

Evelyn Underhill (1875-1941) in Practical Mysticism (Project Gutenberg, 1915) 26.

I am wrapping up a bunch of GTP work today and then taking the rest of the week off to rest, to devote myself to prayer, and to be watchful and thankful. But I don’t want to just eat Thanksgiving turkey and make it a time of self-indulgence. I want this to be a time of recollection.

In short, I want to “look” or or as my wife, who is a spiritual director says, to “notice” how God is at work around me. I think this is what it means to be watchful as a basis for growing in gratitude which births greater generosity. I need to slow down and look or notice God.

If you too are taking time off this Thanksgiving week, join me in this. Devote yourself to prayer, and look or notice God in your situation and give thanks. Then, from what you have recollected, I am confident you too will go forth to live, give, serve, and love more generously.

Open the eyes of our hearts, Lord, to look, to notice, to see You. To discern how you are at work. To celebrate Your gracious generosity, Your abundant provision, Your matchless goodness. Help us by your Holy Spirit to be watchful and thankful. Amen.