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Symbols

How still it is this morning! Last evening, after the business of the day, I crept again to my refreshing quiet, my tired spirit found once more its peace, but the kind hand of sleep has now wiped away the last wave of turmoil.

Then it were an effort to obey my thoughts; now it is pleasure indeed. Yes, there is no experience just as this, in stillness—listening. Here in the silence I gaze into the depths of being. Those wandering thoughts that have been mine, seeming so unconnected, those deep sublime ideas that flashed between petty things, now gather into one long vista of delight, and all are still and settled in their place. Now for a moment I leave the outward sphere, those things of time and sense that pressed me so, and am transported to the realms of thought.

As in a gallery of pictures do I see my life, and not mine alone, but Life itself.

Too long have I been gazing at those dark canvasses whose shadowed backgrounds will not be explained! Sin and pain and sorrow are there pictured forth, yet the Almighty Artist has not painted all in black. Never a picture so dark but He has painted in some bright Hash of color. And while I gaze, a voice seems to speak to me, bidding me pass on, for soon the hidden key of all these pictures shall be mine, and there are others I must see. So I pass on to other scenes. Nobler and finer grow their subjects. Here has the Artist loved to use His paints of gold and flashing color; here grows my admiration greater, quieter, and deeper. But I see amid the sunshine and the blooming flowers, here and there a teardrop, a hovering cloud, and thorns among the roses, and I fain would know the meaning of them all, wondering if in all the Gallery I may find a picture that is all light and joy and color. But still the voice says, “Pass on." I pass to pictures nobler yet. Here I move among mighty Symbols, pictures that speak, and reach into the depths of the heart, that draw me out of myself. Scarce can I tell whether it is I that gaze upon them, or I that I am pictured forth in them. But still at the bidding of the voice—which now I feel to be within me, and is growing very still—I press onward, and lo! at last, at the end of the Gallery, shines out a glorious picture I scarce may look upon. There is no stain of dark color, no cloud over its dazzling brightness. This is more than a symbol.

This is the Great Reality. This is the Light by which all these are seen, the Master Key by which all pictures may be understood. Deeply have I listened and gazed; listened till the harsh outer voices ceased; listened till I am ushered into the presence of the still, small voice that is not sound, but stillness; gazed till the darkened pictures fade away and I am lost in the brightness of Infinite Love. Thou hast called me, oh my God! and I have come. All lesser lights of Thee I have passed as I journeyed to the fullness; all other calls have been naught, but as they led me on to Thee. Here let me stay, for this is Home. But While I would here remain, out of the deep stillness a voice bids me look back where I have come; back to those darker realms where, in the stress and turmoil, I found but a single ray of light which, following, I now know was part of the deep fullness which I feel.

And strange, indeed, that I who passed by the Symbols as I sought for the Great Reality, should long to look once more into those dark pictures of sorrow and pain, for it seems to me that in those dark backgrounds I shall see, by the light I have, wondrous meanings; now by the light of Infinite Love shall I understand those teardrops, see why the thorns are intertwined with roses. Surely now those somber pictures would flame out with love and light; truly l am still listening, but the voice I now hear calls me back to outer planes, and I throb again with joy as the great truth bursts upon me. I know it is the same voice that never more shall I cease to hear; the Voice of the Innermost, the Voice of Infinite Love; and that though I travel to the outermost; though It walk through the valley of shadow, it shall ever be with me.

Gladly, now that I have learned the key—have seen the joy in sorrow and the gain in loss—gladly now will I go down with men, will bear them crosses, and point them ever, though the clouds descend, to that wondrous Light of Love which I have seen.

And now the sun is up and the awakening stir and bustle of the day of toil call me to my work. Men may not understand my morning thoughts, but in my humble task faithfully fulfilled, in the word of cheer and the gentle act shall they see the influence of that Higher Light. Calm and serene above the storms of circumstance, above the drizzling rain of petty, mundane things, here may the vision show its power, bring down in simple things the highest good to men, and lift them up.

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Ernest S. Leigh

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