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Sympathy and Influence

Tired out by the continual noise of traffic I turned from one of London's busy thorough-fares into a quieter street. That day had seen me in one of the poorest neighborhoods in the East End, and my one thought was, "How can I make those around me see the meaning of Life? how can I give them beauty and happiness for such an impure environment?" There was a church at the far end of the street, and as I draw near I heard the strains of music—I listened—then quietly opened the door.

A blind organist was playing, and being tired, I sat down and closed my eyes.

I recognized one of Chopin's nocturnes, it was sad and somewhat depressing, but under its soothing influence I fell asleep.

In that sleep I had a dream!

Before me were many faces, some tired and haggard, others full of darkest despair, and in their midst was a minister preaching. His voice was low, so that it was difficult to hear what he was saying, but the scene fascinated me, and I looked on from the outskirts of the crowd. The faces suddenly changed, some turned away, others laughed in bitter scorn, and as the crowd was beginning to disperse I followed on, deep in thought. Turning to the right I came to a very poor neighborhood, and I saw a still greater number of people intently listening to a younger preacher than the last. His face was lit by an enthusiasm which alone can be attributed to the glory of youth; he seemed surrounded by a supernatural light, for the rays of the sun shone full upon him—"A cloud of glory come from God."

Here the faces became brighter, and the clouds of despair were for the time lifted. I was conscious of someone standing by my side, and without turning, I asked in bewilderment the meaning of this strange sight.

"Brother," he said, "the jeering crowd you beheld was scorning the words of a man who did not know their hardships and struggles, therefore they turned away in utter despair. This man has lived their life, has entered into their joys and sorrows, has been with them in their pleasures, and yet has lived Christ through it all. They find him full of sympathy and compassion, they love him as a brother, and he loves them in return as brethren."

Turning to thank my interpreter, I saw that His face did shine as the sun, and that His raiment was white as the Light—I tried to speak, but my tongue was dumb.

The vision faded, and I awoke with a start—the organ was still playing, and sitting quietly for a few moments, I realized the message that had been given to me; realized that the only way to get in touch with the great heart of humanity was by Sympathy.

I arose and silently crept out.

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