Evelyn Underhill and the “Mysticism of Ordinary Life”
Saturday, June 16, 2018, 9:30-3:30
Nourse Hall, St. Albans Parish*
Next door to the Washington National Cathedral
3001 Wisconsin Ave NW
Washington DC 20016
*Please note change of venue
Please bring a sack lunch
Registration opens: May 1, 2018
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Evelyn Underhill has long been recognized as a pioneer in the retreat movement in the Church of England, and as a highly regarded spiritual director and writer. The author of more than twenty-five books, she was the English language’s most widely read writer on prayer, contemplation, spirituality, worship and mysticism in the first half of the 20th century.
That is the outward, public face of her life and work.
What we will be exploring in this quiet day is the more private aspect of her faith journey—the remarkable way her own spiritual growth, lived out in the context of her “ordinary life,” followed the pattern of the mystic’s development outlined in her most famous scholarly work Mysticism: the soul’s movement from restless surface to quiet depth, to re-emerge in heroic “divine fecundity.”
We will also compare the shape of this inner journey with the 11th c. Camaldolese Benedictine wisdom of the “three-fold good” of the monastic life (experienced as monk in community, hermit in solitude, missionary in the world) and ponder how our own God-ward paths might be seen in that light.
I. Advancing Retreats: Rethinking Evelyn Underhill’s Engagement in the Retreat Movement (and its effect on her)
II. Evelyn Underhill and the Camaldolese charism of Triplex Bonum, the Three-fold Good
Deborah Smith Douglas has degrees in literature and law. A spiritual director, writer, Camaldolese Benedictine oblate and member of the Episcopal church, she has taught classes and led retreats across the United States and Britain (including at Pleshey, the retreat house at Chelmsford in rural Essex that meant so much to Evelyn Underhill). Her essays and poems have been published in Weavings, Commonweal, Spiritual Life, Desert Call, The American Benedictine Review, The Christian Century, and other periodicals.
She is the author of The Praying Life: Seeking God in All Things (Morehouse 2003) and (with her husband David Douglas) the co-author of Pilgrims in the Kingdom: Travels in Christian Britain (Upper Room 2004).
She has served on the Advisory Board and the Board of Directors of Forward Movement, and written many meditations for Forward Day by Day.
She has been writer-in-residence at the Episcopal Cathedral of All Souls in Asheville, North Carolina; visiting scholar at the Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, Texas; faculty at a writers’ workshop at Corban University in Salem, Oregon; adjunct faculty in the Master’s in Spirituality program at Oblate Seminary in San Antonio, Texas; a keynote speaker at the millennial celebration of the Camaldolese Benedictines at Asilomar, California, and chaplain for The Glen, an artists’ and writers’ workshop sponsored by Seattle Pacific University in Santa Fe, New Mexico.