Beholding his glory is only half our job. In our souls too the mysteries must be brought forth; we are not really Christians till that has been done. “The Eternal Birth,” says Meister Eckhart, “must take place in you.” And another mystic says human nature is like a stable inhabited by the ox of passion and the ass of prejudice—animals which take up a lot of room and which I suppose most of us are feeding on the quiet. And it is there between them, pushing them out, that Christ must be born and in their very manger he must be laid—and they will be the first to fall on their knees before him. Sometimes Christians seem far nearer to those animals than to Christ in his simple poverty, self-abandoned to God.
The birth of Christ in our souls is for a purpose beyond ourselves: it is because his manifestation in the world must be through us. Every Christian is, as it were, part of the dust-laden air that shall radiate the glowing epiphany of God, catch and reflect his golden Light. You are the light of the world—but only because you are enkindled, made radiant, by the one Light of the world. And being kindled, we have got to get on with it, be useful. As Christ said in one of his ironical flashes, “Do not light a candle in order to stick it under the bed!”
Evelyn Underhill (1875-1941)