A crystal, and a cell,
A jellyfish, and a saurian.
And caves where cavemen dwell;
Then a sense of law and beauty.
And a face turned from the clod—
Some call it Evolution,
And others call it God.
—From Each in His Own Tongue by William Herbert Carruth
Progression is the Law of Nature. Beauty is the essential Ideal of Nature. Wherever we look we see that everything in Nature is making for betterment, and striving to manifest more and more beauty. There is an eternal, untiring reaching up and out; a ceaseless effort towards perfection. The Law of Evolution is active in all nature, in the so-called barren rock, as well as in the flower and tree. The heart that has entered into the invisible life of nature senses the working of an immeasurable Force which is ever moving all things forward, both the inanimate and the animate. We observe it in all the workings of physical nature; in the seasons as they come and go; in the growth and decay of vegetation, for the leaf fades, falls to the ground and rots only that it may manifest again another spring in greater and more developed beauty. The rock disintegrates that it may become soil and bring forth leaf, and flower and fruit to glorify the earth. And the bleak winds and frosts of winter prepare the earth for the abundant harvest of the summer. Nature Will not have stagnation anywhere, nor will she tolerate bareness and ugliness. See how she stretches forth her hand wherever there is a bare patch, or an unsightly object, and begins at once to make it a thing of beauty. The log cast from the woodman’s axe in the fall of the year, by the spring days is covered with the pale green lichen, and where the tree fell in the autumn, leaving a scar upon the fair bosom of the earth, she has been at work all through the winter and lo, by the time the warm spring days call us out to pick the frail Wind Flowers she has trailed the delicate ivy and the pale green of the speedwell and the pennywort across its bareness, and made of it a patch of the most entrancing loveliness. The old rotting, hollow trunk becomes a buttress upon which the wild rose hangs in all her loveliness, and the grey gable end of the old ruin is draped with trailing ivy. Progression, never-ending effort, untiring energy, increasing beauty, more abounding life—these are nature's laws.
How have we entered into this life of progression? In what measure have we felt the ceaseless urge of Evolution? Have we kept pace with Nature in her untiring effort and eternal reaching out to the essential beauty? Has life for us meant a forward movement? Oh, can we not see, do we not understand that if progression is the law of nature in all her physical manifestations, how much more should it be so in the life of man? If all God’s works continually evolve towards a higher and greater and a fuller life, how much more should man do so, man, the highest work of the Great Unseen Force?
Did we but realize that we are one with the forces of Nature, and that the law of our life is also the law of progression; that for us too the great essential beauty waits, that for us too is the Ideal that never calls back, but ever forward—did we but realize it, how much more radiant and wonderful life would be.
Change is the law of life, we see it all around us. We are continually changing. Every day as it passes marks a change in our thoughts, our bodies, our feelings our aspirations, our ideas. But of what nature is the change? Is it always according to the law of progression? Do we move towards perfection? Is our Today brighter and better than our Yesterday? Are we nearer to the Ideal this year than we were last? "But we are so differently constituted to those other children of Nature," I hear someone complain, "we grow old, and dull; our hearts grow heavy and our senses stagnate, we are not like the trees and flowers." Do we grow old and dull? Do the days as they pass find us with heavy hearts and stagnated senses? Why should it be so? Dear complainer, have you ever asked why should these things be so, and is it a law in the universe that they should be so? Why not change your words thus,—"But we develop as we see more years; we grow in experience; we gain more and more knowledge, more magnetism, more power, and life becomes more and more interesting as the years go by." Would it not be a much better way of expressing life? Grow old if you must, but certainly you need never grow dull. Pass into the seer and yellow leaf, but in doing so there is no reason why you should stagnate and lose the zest and fervor of life. Why do you cease to store up energy and magnetism, and why do you become stagnant? I think it is caused more by our limited ideas of life than anything else. We remember that someone ages ago talked about the "three score years and ten" and of anything beyond that being all vexation of spirit and vanity, and the race has talked about it until it has made it a law for itself, and quite unconsciously it has allowed this idea to become the ruling power of the life of man. The mistaken ideas of death too have had much to do with it. Death being regarded as the end of life, instead of being a mere incident in life. Again, the idea that this one life on earth was the only life, that beyond this there might be a life consisting of golden harps, and alms, and rivers of life for those who were favored by the Deity, but for others—well, you know! So the life of man has become stunted and dwarfed, and the soul of man has been shut up in a prison of his own making.
Let us turn to Nature again. The rose, how so ever beautiful at last fades, and its petals fall to the ground. But is the rose dead? Wait a little, just let the sweet spring airs come, let the warm sunshine of June play upon the responding earth, and back it comes again to the tree in greater and more resplendent beauty and sweeter perfume. "But" you say, "it is not the same rose!" How do you know that it is not the same rose? The leaf that fell to the ground and rotted there last fall will come again to the tree this spring. So all life is continuous—never ending. So all life moves towards maturity, not stagnation. So all life grows and expands as it moves towards its purpose. The rose knows this, as also does the tree and the leaf, for Nature’s little children obey her without question, but man questions, and quibbles, disobeys and—dies!
So it rests with us whether life shall be a continual progression or stagnation; an ever increasing beauty, or a stunted and poisoned deformity.
Let us banish all that has hitherto made life a dirge, and let us turn it into a song! Let us cast out all the old fears and look forward with joyful expectation of something brighter and better coming to us. Forget your cares and your worries, your old thoughts and preconceived ideas. They are not an essential part of you, they are parasites that have no rightful place in your life—thieves and robbers are they, taking from you the right to the Tree of Life! Come out into the open! Look up into the face of the Sun and drink in its healing light rays. Breathe deep, long, full breaths of the Life of God. I am not speaking in parables when I speak thus, I mean actual deep breathing. Shallow breathing lies at the root of a great deal of the physical ills, and certainly it is the cause of much mental and spiritual deficiencies. Remember this, that when you draw in the breath you are drawing upon the very life of God, therefore breathe consciously; breathe with purpose, breathe, not only to live, but to live more abundantly. Do you ever really look at Nature? Look at her now. Look out over the landscape and drink in all the beauty; make yourself one with Nature, and grow with her. There are beauties everywhere waiting to feed our souls and bodies if we would but receive them. "Man shall not live by bread alone," said the Master, but how often man chooses to live by bread alone, and refuses the mystic bread of life. So his body becomes heavy and stagnant and his mind chained to the mundane and the gross things of the senses. Eat and drink of the spiritual food offered to you in abundance everywhere. There is peace in the blue of the sky, strength in the hills, calmness in the meadows, rhythm in the roll of the sea, music in the trees, and deep, deep rest in the pale light of stars. In all Nature is Life, moving, evolving, progressing life. There is no stagnation anywhere. Many of the children of men are dying as they go about their daily duties. Once let stagnation set in and death is inevitable. Once let the idea of having finished with progression, advancement, growth, interest, set in, and that moment the man, the woman, begins to die. How can all this be prevented? By being interested in something; by constantly refreshing that interest, adding to your interest in life. By constantly finding new channels of wonder and imagination. By cultivation of the mind by reading, and study. By dreaming—yes, dreaming dreams of beauty and desire. By building castles in the air. Oh, the castles of beauty and joy one may build, and how often we awake to find they have all come true! How much has been lost by forfeiting the beautiful belief in fairies. Let us go forth peopling our world again with the wee folk, good folk; let us search for the sleeping beauty, for mayhap, we may find her, and give her the kiss that will awaken her from her long sleep, and find all the time that she was sleeping in our own hearts, awaiting our kiss.
Doth doubt immortal God,
The Father who hath made us part
Of sea, and sky, and clod.
One with the elements are we,
One with all solar scheme,
We wake from death’s sweet reverie
Again to live and dream.