Evelyn Underhill: Make a Simple Rule and Stick to It
It looks impossible till you do it, and then you find it is possible.
In this letter, Evelyn Underhill1, advises a more structured life, including everyday practices like going to bed earlier and limiting letter-writing at night.
May 5, 1935
You should take Fr. X's directions about sleeping, and a more ordered life, very seriously indeed.
Of course, he expects you to carry out what he said!!
And, though I fully understand it is quite against your whole temperament, if you would make a simple rule and stick to it regardless, you would find it bracing and quieting, and would get all that really needs doing done!
If as I expect you don't have breakfast till 8:30 or 9 am, three-quarters of an hour for prayer and reading could surely come before that if you go to bed in reasonable time?
You once mentioned letter-writing as one of the things which kept you up late – it is also one of the things that should be disciplined, both as to length and frequency!
No letter-writing after 10:15 pm, as an act of obedience to God, would probably bring a quite new sense of leisure, and no one would be a penny the worse.
It looks impossible till you do it, and then you find it is possible.2
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Evelyn Underhill (1875-1941) was a British author and spiritual teacher who wrote extensively on the topics of mysticism and meditation. Her best known book, Mysticism, published in 1911, remains a profound and classic text. Underhill championed the contemplative life, believing that only by stilling and quietening the soul can one come to true knowledge and understanding. She once wrote: “Mysticism is the art of union with Reality.”
Underhill, Evelyn. The Letters of Evelyn Underhill. United Kingdom: Darton, Longman and Todd, 1991.