Had he, Bart Toyner, then really been given the power in that beginning of life to put out his hand and take this fruit which would have given him such great strength and stature, or had he only had strength just for what he had done and nothing more?
The answer seemed to come to him from all that he had read of the growth of things. He looked into the forests, into the life of the creatures that now lived in them; he saw the fish in the rivers and the birds in the air, everywhere now roots were feeling under the dark ground for just the food that was needed, and the birds flew open-mouthed, and the fishes darted here and there, and the squirrels hoarded their nuts. Everywhere in the past the growth of ages had been bringing together these creatures and their food by slowly developing in them new powers to assimilate new foods. What then of those that pined and dwindled when the organism was not quite strong enough and the old food was taken away? Ah, well! they fell—fell as the sparrows fall, not one of them without God. And what of man rising through ages from beast to sainthood, rising from the mere dominion of physical law which works out its own obedience into the moral region, where a perpetual choice is ordained of God, and the consequences of each choice ordained? Was not the lower choice often inevitable? Who could tell when or where except God Himself? And the higher choice the only food by which character can grow! So men must often fall. Fall to what end? To pass into that boundless gulf of distant light into which everything is passing, passing straight by the assimilation of its proper food, circuitously by weakness and failure, but still coming, growing, reaching out into infinite light, for all is of God, and God is Love.
All Toyner’s thought and sense seemed to lose hold again of everything but that first realisation of the surrounding glory and joy and strength, and the feeling that he himself had to rest for a little while before any new thing was given him to do.