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  Every Branch in Me — Who are we as "human" beings? Back to the List of Slideshows
      Lilian Staveley’s book
       The Golden Fountain
slide 17 of 19

One of the most remarkable spiritual voices of the 20th century was that of Lilian Staveley. Within an outward life as the wife of British general, she led a deeply spiritual life, almost completely untutored, as a writer of profound mystical insights. Mrs. Staveley wrote her three books about her spiritual journey in complete anonymity. The excerpt (1) of her wonderful book The Prodigal Returns  found in Every Branch in Me  emphasizes her belief that everyone, no matter who, could lead a rich contemplative life despite all outward circumstances. We must discover the life in our own 'branches,' but need not turn outward to find them:

Those who could most easily develop their powers of contemplation are those to whom Beauty speaks, or those who are delicately sensitive to some ideal, nameless, elusive, that draws and then retreats, but in retreating still draws. The poet, the artist, the dreamer that harnesses his mind—all can contemplate.

The Thinker, thinking straight through, the proficient business man with his powers of concentration, the first-rate organizer, the scientist, the inventor—all these men are contemplatives who do not drive to God, but to the world or to ambition. Taking God as their goal, they could ascend to great heights of happiness; though first they must give up (“sacrifice”) all that is unsavory in thought and in living: yet such is the vast, the boundless Attraction of God that having once (if only for a few moments) retouched this lost Attraction of His, we afterwards are possessed with no other desire so powerful as the desire to retouch Him again, and “sacrifice” becomes no sacrifice.

Truly, having once known God, we find life without Him to be meaningless and as unbeautiful as a broken stem without its flower: pitiful, naked, and helpless as the body of a butterfly without his wings.

(1)  Taken from page 293 of Every Branch in Me,  this excerpt is also found in the journal Studies in Comparative Religion, Volume 15, copyright 1983, pages 155-159.

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