Those shadowy recollections,
Which, be they what they may,
Are yet the fountain light of all our day,
Are yet a master light of all our living;
Uphold us, cherish, and have power to make
Our noisy years seem moments in the being
Of the Eternal Silence.
Our souls have sight of that immortal sea
Which brought us hither,
Can in a moment travel thither,
And see the children sport upon the shore,
And hear the mighty waters rolling evermore.
Long, long ago, when the world was very young; in the old, old days when the Morning Stars sang together, and their song could be heard because the world was so still; and the music of the Spheres ﬂoated in sweet harmony over the hills and through the valleys, ﬁlling the young world with its divine chord, because no discord was—away back in that ﬁrst dawn a little human child opened its eyes and cried. It looked out on the world and wondered; it looked up into the blue vault and felt lonely, so lonely. Then it wanted to creep into the dark cave, or under the thick forest tangle, for it was afraid; but it did not know why.
Then God called to the child, and it was no longer afraid, and the desire to hide in the dark cave or under the forest tangle passed from it; but it answered not, for it knew not how to answer. And God said, “Thou hast a lesson to learn—thy ﬁrst lesson; take it, and all through the long, long day thou shalt con it over and over to thyself, and when the evening shadows fall across thy pathway, and thou art tired and weary, I will put thee to sleep. Then thou shalt rest long and sweetly, and when thou awakest I will give thee thy next lesson.”
The child took the lesson from the hand of God, and it shone like the stars in the sky; it was to the eyes of the child like a golden doorway, standing wide open, but, far, far, far away—so far that it seemed farther than the farthest star—and through the door he saw a bright light, and in a strange way the heart of the child knew that he would reach it someday. The vision faded, but the lesson remained.
And the lesson Was, “I am I.”
It was a hard lesson to learn, and the child spent many hours over it, and so eager was he that he did not notice that the day had passed its noon and that the light was waning. Still he conned his lesson, the great lesson that God had given him to learn, until the sun went down, and he arose tired and weary. But he was no longer a little child, for the day had been very long, and his form was tall, gaunt, and bent with age; his hair was White, his brow furrowed, and he said, “I am very tired.”
And God smiled, and said, “Sleep now, and rest.”
The man slept, and he awoke again; but this time he was not afraid, neither did he want to hide himself. He looked up at the blue vault above him, and stretched out his hands to it. Why? Ah, he did not know. He listened for something, and waited!
And God said, “See, here is thy next lesson; learn it well, and come back in the evening when thou art tired, and I will put thee to sleep again.”
And the child took the lesson from the hand of God and went out into the world. He gazed upon its trees and ﬂowers, and its living creatures, and all the time as he walked he conned his lesson over and over, for it was harder to learn than the ﬁrst.
The second lesson Was, “You are you.” Again the long hours passed unheeded, for as he learned this lesson he heard the Music of the Spheres and the Song of the Morning Stars; and as his feet touched the new, new world the ﬂowers and tender grass gave forth music—perhaps it was the echoes of the Great Universal Harmony, or maybe it was the echo of his own heart—as he repeated his lesson, “ You are you” I Then, for the ﬁrst time, he knew gladness, and joy was born in his heart; but no sooner did it come to birth than lo! the shadows fell across his pathway, and the sun went down. Then the man lifted his pale face to heaven and smiled, saying, “O God, we are so tired.”
And God said, “Sleep and rest; tomorrow I will give thee another lesson.”
And the third day the child awoke, stretched himself and rubbed his eyes, but he did not look up, nor stretch out his hands to the blue; he looked around him and said, “Where is he, my Comrade?”
Then God gave the child his third lesson, and lo! it was harder than all the others, and as he looked at it his heart grew faint for a moment; then a strange thrill passed through him, and taking his staff in his hand he set forth.
The third lesson was, “Thou shalt not.” In the evening when the sun had set he was very tired, very weary, and his hair was as white as snow. Perhaps it was the whiteness of his hair, or perhaps it was the afterglow oi the setting sun, but a light seemed to play about his lips and shone upon his pale brow. He slept, and smiled in his sleep like a little child.
Day after day the child awoke, and thought that he looked upon a new world, but did not stop to question why he was not afraid. He smiled into the eyes of his fellows, and they smiled back, but they never asked why.
But some days the child neglected his lesson—for each new day as he awoke God gave him a lesson to learn—some days he forgot, and in his forgetfulness he turned from the straight way that led up to the bright light and the Open Door, and he chased the golden butterﬂy across the moors, or followed the dancing lights of the Will-o’-the-Wisp. Then when night came he could not smile. He slept, and Woke, and took up the same lesson again.
Some days he missed his way, and had to retrace his steps wearly and in pain, for the child and the man were ever free, for had he not learnt that ﬁrst lesson, “I am I”?