’Twas a sweet and simple lesson, which the story
told, I thought,
Not alone and single-handed our kindliest deeds are wrought;
Like the sunbeam and the raindrop, work together, while we may,
And the bow of Heaven’s own promise shall smile upon our way.
STRANGE and subtle are the influences which affect the spirit and touch the heart. Are there bodiless creatures around us, moulding our thoughts into darkness or brightness, as they will? Whence, otherwise, come the shadow and the sunshine, for which we can discern no mortal agency?
Oftener, As we grow older, come the shadows; less frequently the, sunshine. Ere I took up my pen, I was sitting with a pleasant company of friends, listening to music, and speaking, with the rest, light words.
Suddenly, I knew not why, my heart was wrapt away in an atmosphere of sorrow. A sense of weakness and unworthiness weighed me down, and I felt the moisture gather to my eyes and my lips tremble, though they kept the smile.
All my past life rose up before me, and all my short-comings—all, my mistakes, and all my wilful wickedness, seemed pleading trumpet-tongued against me.
I saw her before me whose feet trod with mine the green holts and meadows, when the childish thought strayed not beyond the near or the possible. I saw her through the long blue distances, clothed in the white beauty of an angel; but, alas! she drew her golden hair across her face to veil from her vision the sin-darkened creature whose eyes dropped heavily to the hem of her robe!
O pure and beautiful one, taken to peace ere the weak temptation had lifted itself up beyond thy stature, and compelled thee to listen, to oppose thy weakness to its strength, and to fall—sometimes, at least, let thy face shine on me from between the clouds. Fresh from the springs of Paradise, shake from thy wings the dew against my forehead. We two were coming up together through the sweet land of poesy and dreams, where the senses believe what the heart hopes; our hands were full of green boughs, and our laps of cowslips and violets, white and purple. We were talking of that more beautiful world into which childhood was opening out, when that spectre met us, feared and dreaded alike by the strong man and the little child, and one was taken, and the other left.
One was caught away sinless to the bosom of the Good Shepherd, and one was left to weep pitiless tears, to eat the bread of toil, and to think the bitter thoughts of misery,—left “to clasp a phantom and to find it air.” For often has the adversary pressed me sore, and out of my arms has slid ever that which my soul pronounced good: slid out of my arms and coiled about my feet like a serpent, dragging me back and holding me down from all that is high and great.
Pity me, dear one, if thy sweet sympathies can come out of the glory, if the lovelight of thy beautiful life can press through the cloud and the evil, and fold me again as a garment; pity and plead for me with the maiden mother whose arms in human sorrow and human love cradled our blessed Redeemer.