Alas for him who never sees
The stars shine through his cypress trees.
We can truthfully say there is no such thing as a real trouble in the world.
We are fighting shadows,—false appearances.
A very shapely man will often cast a shadow that is Titanic and grotesque. The effect is the result of his relation to the light. "The shadow proves the presence of the sun."
Our troubles have no more power than we ourselves ascribe to them. When looked at in the light of a true philosophy, they no longer seem distorted incidents of life, but fall into their proper places and proportions.
We discern our real relation to them and find their cause and consequence. Every one of them has a lesson for us. We should receive and welcome it.
Kings' messengers are often splashed and stained; and oftenest when they have ridden fast and hard as bearers of important tidings.
Our troubles are not sightly when they stand before us. But they can always bring us tidings of great joy, revealing to us spiritual treasures that have been hidden; awakening in us a sense of power and freedom we had never suspected possible, provided we receive them rightly, and boldly demand their message.
We learn these interpretations by looking into graves,—the graves of loved ones dearer than life; by going down ourselves into the valley of the shadow; by walking among the cypress trees that grow above the tombs of dead ambitions, broken purposes and disappointed hopes.
When we look up again we see the stars of morning shining through the evergreens, and presently the day breaks and the shadows flee away.
We walk out of our cemeteries into the open and find again green pastures and still waters, with the bright blue skies above us, and the fresh, sweet breezes stirring all our pulses to new vigor. Then we know that life is not a failure. We are truly conquerors.
Nature is quick to hide her scars. The grass springs up on all her battlefields. She turns her volcanoes into flower gardens.
No alpine valley is more beautiful, no soil more fruitful than that of the extinct crater, clothed with forests and vineyards.
When we consider the lily how it grows, we may often find another lesson in the where it grows.
No life need abide in the shadows.
The garments of woe do not belong to us when we have seen ourselves as gods.
Our crumbled sorrows should prove the richest soil for fragrant flowers and refreshing fruit.
The finest wheat and most delicious grapes spring from the pulverized lava that once scorched the mountain side and killed all vegetation in the hour of eruption.
O troubled spirit! let the sunlight and the showers come to you; let the soft winds of heaven comfort you; and you will some day find that your richest harvests have been grown from the soil of the years that you thought blasted.
So we are thankful for the shadows we have called our sorrows.
They curtained the gates of gold beyond the "Via Dolorosa." through which we passed to larger understanding. In the light of the new day they stand revealed and open.
"Weeping may endure for a night; but joy cometh in the morning."
We fear to trust our wings. We plume and flutter them, but dare not throw our weight upon them. We cling too often to the perch, and excuse our timidity by saying we are chained by "circumstances." Yet there is the great, buoyant atmosphere enfolding us, and we are provided with strong spiritual pinions fitting us to float in it. Courage is all we lack.
Be like the bird that, pausing in its flight
Awhile on bough too light,
Feels it give way beneath it, and yet sings,
Knowing that it hath wings.