For long I have been gaining light and joy through the pages of the Epoch, and especially through the Letter Box. May I now make a confession to you? I have wanted to for some weeks, but a very selfish thought has kept me from doing so, and it was this: As I have gained so much from the troubles aud trials of others because they were willing to have their letters published and answered in the Letter Box. I also ought to be willing to have my letter and the answer published, so that others might be helped by my experience and your advice. Well, I have come to it. I know my name will be held in sacred silence by you. My letter and your answer you are at liberty to publish, if you feel to do so. For long I enjoyed the most perfect communion with God in meditation. It was so easy to detach myself from everything and everybody and centre the mind on holy things, O the joy and the blessedness of those hours! To shorten my story, I allowed something to take my mind off those daily communions. Not that I gave up entirely, far from it, but I was fast becoming an "empty vine—my heart was divided." When I came to myself, and tried to again become fixed in thought and prayer, the power was gone! Oh the soul agony of that revelation of myself! You, with your great Sympathy and love will understand. I tried to enter into the Silence but I could not! I tried to speak—my heart was silent! I tried to commune—the heavens were brass. I am still there. The drought has come into my soul, wd my heart is as a desolate wilderness. Can you help me?
My whole soul goes out to you in sympathy. I understand so well, for I have passed the same way more than once in my journey. There are times when one is called to pass through a "dark night of the soul" without any apparent cause. We search our hearts and thoughts but can find no reason why the light should be shut off, why the communion has ceased. Those seasons are hard to bear, and difficult to understand, but it is best to wait, and be patient. But when we know that we ourselves have shut the light out; that we, by our own act have forsaken the way of meditation and communion with God—Ah, then it is a "dark night of the soul" indeed! Let this thought dwell with you, that though you may have grown lukewarm and careless; though you may have allowed something to take the place of that which has hitherto come first in your life; though you may for the time being have allowed an idol to come between you and God,—the Great Sacred Heart, has not altered,—the Christ, the Real One, remains the same, unchanged and unchangeable. The Eternal Light has not grown dim, only your realization of it has weakened for a time. His Love is none the less—could not be, can never be, it is only your love that for a time has seemed to grow colder. I don’t know what the thing was that drew your eyes from the Mountain Height. It may have been a great ambition, or a human love, or a sinful indulgence. Whatever it was, it was necessary for you, or it could not have been. The very fact that you now know that you have been hindered in your meditations, shows you clearly, that, in reality, you have not "backslidden" in the real sense of the word, you have just been allowed to prove all things, that you might hold fast to that which is good. Sometimes beautiful gifts are given to us to prove our strength. If we can hold the gift and still remember the Giver, then more grace and more abundant life is ours. But if in receiving the gift we forget the Giver then have we proven ourselves unworthy, and not sufficiently strong enough to possess the gift, and so it is necessary that it should be withdrawn. We should not grieve when this happens. We should not look at our empty hands and weep. Rather should we seek to grow stronger, more worthy of the gift that has been taken back, knowing that it is but held in store for us against that day when we are strong enough to receive it and keep it. Again, if by willful sin, or self-indulgence, we have fallen away from the soul life, and the light reveals to us where we have erred, then let us rejoice that to us has been given the knowledge of our sin, or self-indulgence, so that we may turn again from it, and regain what we have lost. Oftentimes the soul is made more perfect through falling thus. Oftentimes it is permitted, to teach us sympathy with others, for we may be in danger of condemning our fellows, and that is a terrible thing, for it hardens the heart and blinds the eyes, and men grow self-righteous and do not know it. One day they wake up to find they cannot cast the first stone, and they go out, one by one, out into the hardness and the desolation of separation where no sympathy and no compassion dwell. If you have allowed an idol to reign,—He is of tender mercies and very deep in compassion,—fear not, for He who made the human heart knows its longings and its weakness, and in His eyes no love can be anything but what He is. Love never separated a soul from God. It is a mistake to think that any love is wrong, or that any love can be too great. I remember when my little girl came to me, and I found all my life and my delight in gazing into her face and holding her in my arms, a servant used to shake her head and say,—" Ah, Mistress, you love that child too much, be careful, God may take her from you if you love her too much." What a foolish thought! As if one could ever love too much! Depend upon it it is MORE LOVE than we are needing. We are not suffering because we love too much. No one can ever say—"I loved too well," but well may we all say, "Would that l had loved more."
Let me remind you that when you go into the Silence there is no need that you speak to God. The very word the Silence means this. Just you go, as you used to, and at the same time, into communion, and keep silence, absolute silence. Wait,—and if it be for weeks, still wait. Be still, and know! I have found at such seasons those words of the Apostle’s very helpful. You remember he says that we know not what we should ask for, so the Spirit maketh intercession for us with groanings that cannot be uttered. Oh, why do we not keep silent when we know not what to ask for, and allow the Spirit to make intercession? And if even the Spirit cannot give expression to our need, but must even with groanings approach the Mercy Seat; if the unutterable is the unutterable, even to the Spirit, how much less may we give it voice! How much rather should we keep silent, and let the Spirit intercede. Oh, dear soul, enter into the Quiet again, and keep silent, be still. The vision may tarry. Be patient. The Light will be far brighter when it comes. Brighter than ever before. Sweet is the rest that follows pain, and clear and beautiful is the vision of the Light after the "dark night of the soul." So my message to you might be all summed up in one word—WAIT!
Have you ever called a child but it has been too busy with its work or play to heed you, and you have called again, and again? So, I think God sometimes calls us, but we are too busy to hear His voice or to take heed. Then in His great love for us He allows us to enter the lonely shadow. We stay our haste then, and we listen! "It was well for me," said David, "that I was afflicted, for before l was afflicted I went astray."
I have been thinking so much lately about the Broken Body of our Lord. I have entered into the mystic meaning—through sorrow—and have in my hunger and need found the Blessed Table everywhere, and the Broken Bread ever at hand. "Take eat, this is my body broken for you"—the Voice has been saying over and over again to me while I walked in the shadow, and I have known that never has there been a time when it was not, nor ever will there be a time when it will not be. And one said to me,—"We gain so much more from your writings now, far more than we used to. You have grown more sympathetic, more loving, stronger,—you help us more." So we always come to it—we thank God that the cup did not pass from us! Once upon a time a soul went down into the Valley of Humiliation and Sorrow, and while wandering there alone she picked a white flower. It was so white it could not have bloomed on the steep mountain side. She placed it in her bosom and cherished it. Long after, she knocked at the Door of Heaven, and entering there, the angels gathered round her enraptured with something they saw upon her; and they shaded their eyes with their hands. And one asked "Where did you find it?" And looking down on her breast she saw there the white flower she had, picked that cold, dark, lonely day in the Valley of Humiliation!
Extract from Letter.
"Shall I ever reach the Ideal?"
Answer. l verily believe that never was there a longing of the human heart that will not be satisfied. l know as much as I know anything that somewhere, sometime, all that we have reached out to will come to us; all that we have seen in visions will be ours. The very longing is an earnest of the inheritance. Your longings after the Divine Life; your aspirations—so earnest, so sincere, so intense,—they cannot fail, they must find that which you desire. Rest assured of this, and do not be impatient. I think sometimes our eyes are holden that we may not see how high up we have climbed lest we grow giddy and fall upon the way. You may be nearer the Ideal than you think. I received a wonderfully comforting message one day and I will now pass it on to you. Indeed, all such messages, and all my visions come to me that I may pass them on to others. I may keep nothing for myself. I was longing for the opportunity to do a great work which I had seen in the Mount of Vision. And one day as I longed and claimed the power, I suddenly grew fearful lest it could not be for me; lest I had made a mistake, and had but been permitted to see the vision for another and not for my life at all. Then into my mind, just as though one had spoken the words, came the message,—"For it is God that worketh in you to WILL and to Do." It was quite a shock for a moment. God in my willing! And I had thought that I, just I alone had been willing that this thing might be, and had only thought of God as having the DOING part! So I just go on willing, willing as hard as I can! For it is God that worketh in me to will, and I may therefore leave the DOING to Him also. It is God in you, my brother, reaching out to the Ideal. You shall arrive!
There never was, in all the history of the world, such a need for devout and earnest men and women; for pure and clean men and women; for upright and strong men and women. There never was such a crying need for loving hearts and kind words and actions. There never was a time when men and women needed more to examine themselves and re-consecrate themselves to the Christ. May we, readers of The Epoch, and followers of the message of the Divine Master, may we at this time walk worthy of our high calling.
My love to all who read these words, and may His peace fill your hearts, and His strength be poured out upon you.
Yours affectionately, to serve,
Lily L. Allen