By A Dreamer
It had been a hot sultry day, and just before sundown a sweet shower fell. In conformity with my usual practice, I walked home after the day’s work through one of the London parks. The rain had ceased to fall by the time I reached the gardens, and only a few lonely wisps of cloud lingered in the calm sky. The air was cool and fragrant now, and the shower had imparted to grass and leaves a peaceful freshness which was contagious. The distant murmur of the mighty city, like the tireless murmur of a far-off sea, added another subtle touch to the quiet scene. It was a time for dreams. Out of the material supplied by those pleasant gardens, fancy erected many an edifice, fair to look upon. As the beauties of the outer world deepened as the daylight failed, imagination’s fanes and landscapes grew more perfect and serene as they approached more sacred things. One by one the fleecy cloudlets blushed crimson, as the sun dipped into the smoky haze which ever hangs round the metropolitan horizon. Lower and lower sank the glowing globe, until it passed from view; richer and more harmonious became the emblazonry of the western firmament, and more fragrant became the scents of evening, as the night rose to replace the glory of the day by her yet fuller loveliness; and sweeter and more mysterious became the communion my soul held with all. And I floated away on its gentle influences,—where, I know not. The sunset faded; the murmur of London ceased; the park was gone. I was alone, and yet all were with me. Perfect joy, and it seemed, perfect love were mine, were all that I was. “My everlasting Mother!" I cried out, "take me, take me; let me die in this hour; this is the issue of existence; this is life; it were death to live; grant me to remain ever thus in thee; ah, I cannot return!" Then, soft as the sighing of the night breezes, yet stern withal, came a voice out of the midst of myself. "What have you done? " it said. “Nothing," I made answer, "Nothing." Whom have you brought into the joy of your Lord?" it asked. "No one," I said, "No one." "Have you wrought any blessing to any creature?" it asked again. And I answered that I had wrought none whatever. “How dare you then to die?” came the question. "The time to die is not yet. Go down, and bring all beings to the one perfect marriage. When each knoweth all, then returneth he to me through his love to the world. The marriage is not perfect without all know all. But even men are yet strangers to one another. Return, therefore, and bring them to me; and in bringing them, thou shalt know me e’en better than thou knowest me now. Then thou canst die, but at this time, you know not what you ask." That was all. Yet ‘twas, sufficient to make me utterly ashamed.
So we grasp, and lose ourselves—the Ideal; and the Ideal brings us back to earth, our habitation, again. For the Ideal is Love; and like as the specks of dust in the molten wax at the top of a lighted candle are drawn to the flame in the center, and from thence are expelled to the very circumference, so we gravitate again and again to the Fount of Life, and therefrom are driven away, refreshed and stimulated nevertheless, down to the darkest places to join that holy throng which in all ages has labored and still labors to transmute pain into gladness, and to raise all things back to the Lord.
“The mount for visions!
But below the paths of daily duty go;
And nobler life therein must own
The pattern on the mountain shown."
It is to be feared that visionaries are apt to forget that their dreams are for their fellow-men. The dreamer is a factor in evolution, just as much as he is a product thereof He is the salt of mankind. But if he be not animated with a positive passion, with a fanaticism, if you please, governed by love and reason, for compassion, goodwill and equity; if he lose his flavor, then, in truth, he is of all things the most deluded—more wretched, indeed, that he, who, possessed of a garner full of corn, refused to dispense the same to a starving people.
There is no more sad mockery in this world than the optimist who can live peacefully and contentedly in the midst of misery without raising a helping hand in its mitigation. The most pessimistic pessimist is a man honorable beside him; for he at least does not call evil, good. If we would hold the joy without the labor, we deceive ourselves. Peace and sight are retained and kept alive by labor.
"All is Love," many have ecstatically exclaimed. Yes, all is love; but only so long as we men live according to the highest that is in us, and work for the redemption of the whole world from suffering and from sin. Man is destined to be a savior and comforter unto the weeping world; and if he grows and continues in this high office, all is well with the world.
The pessimist is right; the earth is full of sorrow. And, assuming the impossible (for the law that makes for deliverance is irresistible), that men shall ever walk in the way of fleshly pleasures, then the creation is essentially bad, life is nothing more than an empty dream and a mocking curse, and there is no consoler for the weeping world at all. But the world is not evil, nor is life an idle dream, if we will but follow the voice of our Mother, calling, calling ever, in this truant land of time, to her lost little ones to return once more to her all-peaceful breast. The world can be made more glad and yet more glad, more beautiful and still more beautiful, if we will crystallize here those tender injunctions borne hither from heaven on angel-wings—to be just, to be merciful, to be loving. Thus in our own person, by our own conduct, we controvert the pessimist, but if we fail, his philosophy stands true and triumphant.
Dream on then, dreamer. But remember, your dreams come to you for your world’s sake. This planet is soaked in sorrow; it is racked with pain; and yet, all is love. It is for you to justify your optimism by striving to eliminate the pangs, and to promote the happiness of your fellow-creatures, and by working for the establishment of more equitable relations between men in human society. You hear the moan of the wounded beast. You see the pinched, white faces of the innocent children. You see the toilers dwelling in foul places. You see the misery which men shower on themselves and on others and by their avarice, their pride, and their hate. You see all these things, perchance clearer than other men; and it was because you cursed them from your heart and set your face against them that the angels whispered in your ear—"Hate not the evil-doers; for never in this world ceases hatred by hatred. But bring to naught the works of wickedness by laboring silently, and without stay, for justice and for Love." You and your dream are the only remedies for the world’s sorrows. And if you simply chant psalms and anthems, what is the poor world to do? By all means sing your song. But something more is required of you.