Those who have learned Life’s richest secrets cannot but grow more beautiful with the years, while those who live wantonly, selfishly and even carelessly, age in ugliness. For the abuse of the noble traits of human character involves their loss, and the chambers they occupied in the house of our humanity will be filled with ugly tenants. The Art of Living, of which we frequently hear, means also the art of cultivating a beautiful old age. What a pity it is that so many have ordered their lives in such a way that they have a horror of old age! What a lack of apprehension of the glory of Life! What a sad, sad distortion of the nobility of a mind which is eternal!
Those who have lived well see a Holy glamour in old age, the beauty of ripened fruit, the golden tint of an autumn leaf, the indescribable glory of a setting sun. Age has a gentle mellowing influence upon those who meet it hopefully. How I covet the ripe experience of one nearing the end of a long, long journey over the hills of joy and through valleys of tears—to whom the vicissitudes of time have produced a steadfast unfearing hope in immortality, and have taught the value of the things that matter! Such happy folk have regained no small measure of the Holy Innocence of childhood—the ineffable glory of intelligent undefiled Innocence, more precious because of its experience.
A person who has lived right well can never become childish. But all who achieve mastery over themselves must grow more childlike as they make progress in the mystic way.
The beauty of childhood's innocence lies in its unstudied simplicity. That simplicity we all must cultivate—and upon success in this direction depends the achievement of that childlikeness which finds in life real enjoyment. This is one of the secrets of the art of a beautiful old age.
"Except ye become as a little child ye shall not enter the Kingdom," ye shall not understand the real meaning of life.
We are not to seek for the cheap notoriety which comes to those who leave the normal domestic life for the life of the savage, or the primitive man of a forgotten paradise. We must cultivate simplicity in our ordinary habits, and that simplicity will endow us with vision which finds a parable in every task, and hears eternal melody even in the sounds of the street. We shall be brought into harmony with Natures living stream; we shall hold communion with "birds and beasts and flowers" and glory in the knowledge that Nature in all her varied aspects, and we, are one.
Nature can be understood and fully appreciated only by the simple minded, whose simplicity is the outcome of wisdom, and in whom subtility has no place. Her music is far more glorious than the anthems of a splendid choir, indeed all human art in music is but all imitation of Nature’s melody, or mans attempt to interpret it, just as a picture is the expression of an impression Nature has made upon an artistic mind. The truest artists are the simplest, and a cultivated simplicity will discern difference between the work of the musician, the painter, or the preacher, who are all, if sincere, striving to express the impulse which reveals itself in Nature.
Children and primitive men still believe in, and sometimes fear spirits which dwell in stones, trees, mountains, and rivers. Only the ignorant and gross will scoff at such a belief and fear for there is an element of truth in it all which ignorant or shall we say inexperienced simplicity is not qualified to interpret. There are living stones; and there is living rock and life-giving waters, everything contributes to the Being of all. We understand them as vehicles of expression just as our earth born bodies are vehicles of the same great Life. And the simplicity of it all is a stumbling block to the worldly wise. "I thank Thee, O Father, that Thou hast revealed these things unto babes." What a wonderful paradox!
If it weren’t for the "wise and prudent" there would be no paradoxes, for simplicity knows no paradox.
Those who love the praise of men cannot possess simplicity, for that, as things are at present is unworthy of praise. The honors of the world are won by the subtle more often than by the simple brave. And Christ scorning the honors of men, was treated as a felon by the "wise and prudent!"
There is a child's song which often galls me. It contains the words "Pity my simplicity." Let us pity rather the misuse of the word. Cultivate simplicity with knowledge and pity ignorance. Even poetic license does not justify such liberty with a beautiful concept.
If I am to grow old I would grow old beautifully and would that I could leave something fragrant on earth which would bring pleasure to many, and inspire them to walk the way I hope to tread.