October 2010 - Vol. 43
An inner lack of integrationThomas R. Kelly (1893-1941) was an American Quaker missionary, educator, speaker, writer, and scholar. The following excerpt is from his book, A Testament of Devotion, published in 1941.
The problem we face today needs very little time for its statement. Our lives in a modern city grow too complex and overcrowded. Even the necessary obligations which we feel we must meet grow overnight, like Jack's beanstalk, and before we know it we are bowed down with burdens, crushed under committees, strained, breathless, and hurried, panting through a never-ending program of appointments. We are too busy to be good wives to our husbands, good homemakers, good companions of our children, good friends to our friends, and with no time at all to be friends to the friendless. But if we withdraw from public engagements and interests, in order to spend quiet hours with the family, the guilty calls of citizenship whisper disquieting claims in our ears....
I would suggest that the true explanation of the complexity of our program is an inner one, not an outer one. The outer distractions of our interests reflect an inner lack of integration of our own lives. We are trying to be several selves at once, without all our selves being organized by a single, mastering Life within us. Each of us tends to be, not a single self, but a whole committee of selves. There is the civic self, the parental self, the financial self, the religious self, the society self, the professional self, the literary self....
Life lived from
a divine Center
What is here urged are secret habits of unceasing orientation of the deeps of our being about the Inward Light, ways of conducting our inward life so that we are perpetually bowed in worship, while we are also very busy in the world of daily affairs....
Return to the
living Christ within you
The secular world today values and cultivates only the first level,
assured that there is where the real business of mankind is done, and scorns,
or smiles in tolerant amusement, at the cultivation of the second level
- a luxury enterprise, a vestige of superstition, an occupation for special
temperaments. But in a deeply religious culture men know that the deep
level of prayer and of divine attendance is the most important thing in
the world. It is at this deep level that the real business of life is determined.
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