A SCENE IN PALESTINE.
“I had rather choose to be a pilgrim on earth with Thee than without Thee to possess heaven. Where Thou art, there is heaven: and where thou art not, there is death and hell.”—Thomas a Kempis.
It was a scene perfect in its calm beauty. A small, low, white house, flat-roofed, and dazzlingly clean, nestled at the foot of one of the fairest hills in Palestine; and before the door swept the river Jordan, plashing with that low, soft ripple which is music everywhere, but nowhere more so than in the hot countries of the East.
A grove of banana and orange-trees sheltered the house, and the delicate fragrance of the ripening fruit mingled with the perfume of late roses. On the green hills near, sheep rambled at will, and an occasional low bleat arose above the busy hum of bees, giving an air of life to the quiet scene.
In the shade of the trees sat Nathan, his wife and Mary. They had been talking of Manasseh,—poor Manasseh, left behind in barren Arabia! Nathan too had wanted to stay with his distressed countrymen, but failing health had forced him to seek the more genial atmosphere of the North; and, after a long, tedious journey, he at last found himself safe once more in his beloved Palestine, poor in worldly goods, yet serene and hopeful as ever.
And fortune was at last smiling on the Jewish family. Nathan’s health had come back to him in the clearer, more bracing air of the Northern land, his flocks were increasing, and the only gloom upon their perfect happiness was the absence of Manasseh, from whom they were not likely to hear soon. And yet they gloried in knowing that Manasseh had chosen to meet tribulation for the sake of his faith, and that, wherever he was, he was helping others and fighting on the side of right.
“Father,” said Mary, “how grand it is to be able to do something great and noble in the cause! Were I a man, I would go with Manasseh to fight for the Cross.”
Nathan stroked her hair softly. “The life of everyone who is consecrated to God is directed by him,” he said. “To Manasseh is given the privilege of defending the faith and helping the weak by his strong, young arm; to Mary is given the humble, loving life in which she may serve God just as truly and do just as great a work in faithfully performing her own little part. Think you not so, mother?”
“Ah, yes,” returned the mother, with her gentle smile. “Life is like the cloth woven little by little, until the whole pattern shows in the finished work; and it matters not whether the pattern be large or small. So the little things of life, done well for Christ’s sake, will at last make a noble whole of which none need be ashamed.”
“But mother, watching the sheep, grinding the meal, washing the garments, seem such very little things.”
“Yet all these are very necessary things,” returned the mother quietly, “and if done cheerfully and willingly, call for an unselfish heart. A gentle, loving life lived amid little cares and trials is no small thing, my child.”