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Graveclothes

And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth! And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes.
—John xi. 43, 44

This is a good illustration of the condition of many persons. In fact, we all are in different stages of “deadness.” You will notice that it is a command, not a mere persuasion. A command must be given with firmness. There must be a vital reason back of it. You will also observe that “he cried with a loud voice,” — a voice that could be heard through this “deadness.” He realized that Lazarus must be aroused. A mild, gentle voice would not have sufficed for this. So “he cried with a loud voice, Come forth!” And Lazarus came forth.

Now, to all appearances, the man had been dead; but in reality there is no death. Is this not an example of our divinity being covered from sight, of our being asleep to spiritual life? Are we not apparently dead, until someone calls in a loud voice, — to this divine part, — “Come forth I” and we rouse ourselves, and come forth, dazed and “bound hand and foot with grave-clothes”? How well this last quotation describes our belief in limitations! We are bound with old fears, old prejudices, old opinions, old habits of thinking and living.

But “Loose him, and let him go,” is the next command. So the divine in each one becomes more and more manifest; and we throw aside our “graveclothes,” which belong to our dead or sleeping condition, and begin to realize that we have no limitations. We do not need “grave-clothes” when we realize what life is, — that we are spirit, and therefore cannot die.

He who thinks himself holier than another, he who has any pride in his own exemption from vice or folly, he who believes himself wise or in any way superior to his fellow-men, is incapable of discipleship. — Annie Besant

We who have responded to the voice, we who have “come forth,” are in danger of just this. We wish others were living on a higher plane, were not so material. We are glad that we have overcome certain vices or follies. We believe our judgment is better, and that we are wiser.

Now we think we do all this with a feeling of love and charity. We do not intend to set ourselves up as examples of goodness and wisdom: nevertheless, we are on dangerous ground. I feel like putting up a sign-board, “Keep off the grass.” Let it have a chance. Don't walk over the newly planted ground, to look for the barren places. Don't pull the tender shoots up by the roots to see if they are growing. Give others a chance. Give yourself a chance also; for self-condemnation is as bad as to feel that we are wiser and better than others. It is in fact the same spirit applied to ourselves that we apply to others. No one is inferior and no one is superior to another. Let us look only for the God-part in every one. Let us so live that we may express it in ourselves. Let us come forth to stay, and not be running back to our graveclothes, as we are so inclined to do. Let us live to our best every hour, and the true results of life are assured.

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Katharine H. Newcomb

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