Evelyn Underhill (1875 - 1941) was a prolific English mystic whose writing continues to influence readers around the world. In an era when women were unknown in theological circles, she lectured at the University of Oxford, spoke at Canterbury Cathedral, and was highly respected as a retreat leader and spiritual advisor. She was active in the Church of England for the second half of her life.

Edited by Delroy Oberg, this compilation offers a generous, broad, and soul-stirring sampler of her thought. This prolific spiritual adventurer blazes new trails in our hearts and minds with her cogent meditations on holiness, the church, sanctity, prayer, the Eucharist, and much more.

Underhill refused to fall into the trap of being a Sunday Christian. "The spiritual life," she wrote, "is not a special career involving abstraction from the world of things. It's part of everyone's life, and until we have realized it, we are not complete human beings, have not entered into possession of all our powers."

At the high point in her activity in the Anglican church, Underhill was conducting seven or eight retreats a year. She saw them as an opportunity to "deepen our contact with the spiritual realities on which our lives depend — to recover if we can our spiritual poise." In another piece on retreats she spoke of them as "a bit of spiritual welfare work, quite essential to the organization of the church."

Underhill's writings reflect her constant interest in the inner life and the turning of the soul toward new intensities of concentration and devotion. While many of her supporters were exhilarated by these concerns, others were astonished by her uncompromising pacifist stance at the outset of World War II. Yet for this reader, it seems right in tune with her spirituality. In a piece on "The Church and War" Underhill concluded: "She cannot minister with one hand the Chalice of Salvation, whilst with the other she blesses the instruments of death."