Monday, January 28, 2008

This is a little late for "New Year's", but still very thought-provoking.
It is from the Mother's Magazine, January 1908.
(Images are coming!)
This is the month of the New Year.Far up at Tomsk, in the Northland world, where civilization is scant, and people battle with the elements to exist, the cry will ring out on the natal day:
"God be with you: peace to us all!
"The spirit back of that cry, given as it is at one of the outposts of the world, has been termed by Henry Drummond "the lower ledge."
In every home, in every school, church or field of other work, there exists alower ledge. For that matter, it is on this ledge that the riches, not only of material things, but spiritual ones, are found.
The Kimberley diamond mines are wonderfully rich. Gold flows in marvelous quantities from the fields of South Dakota and the ranges of Alaska and the Andes. The South Seas yield their treasures of pearls, and Indian waters those of coral.
But none of these material things are found on the surface of the earth. The depths must be uncovered to find them. The diver must sink himself in the waters a hundred or more feet, and the miner a thousand or more, to find the sparkling reward for industry. On the lower ledge, far below the ordinary surface of the earth or its waters, the gift for valiant effort is uncovered.
"And," wrote Dummond, "this being true of things that pertain to matter, it is also true of what belongs to the soul. Our keenest, truest feelings are not those on the surface, but those which develop in the depths through patience, suffering, self-denial, love of our fellow-men."
Let us, therefore, on the New Year Day, strike deep to the lower ledge of our our better nature, find there a jewel, and bestow it upon our neighbhor, that for him the natal time may be as full of hope as it is to us. Let us not give him the husk of the surface of ourselves, but the richness from the lower ledge of all our experiences with life and God. So shall we truly serve the one God."
Every new salute in the moving procession of the years, every passing of the old and coming of the New, leaves clearer the evidence that humanity is giving with the changes, greater thought to humanity.
"And the word 'humanity,'" wrote Drummond, "is not complex in its meaning. it is the child at your knee, the neighbor across the way, the servant at the table, the king on his throne, and the peasant at the plow. It is the church around the corner, the school on the hill top, the home whose eaves shade you, the community in which you live. Humanity is yourself and your touch with others."
A one-legged beggar, hobbling through the streets of London on a snowy New Year's night, accidentally stumbled against the great Disraeli, who, missing his cab, had started to make his destination on food. The beggar fell, but even as he did so, he cried out:
"I beg pardon, sir. 'Twas my fault--sure, I didn't mean to bump you.
"The statesman bent over him, helped him up, brushed the snow from his clothes, handed him some change, and, as he passed on, cried out:
"A Happy New Year!--it was not your fault."The beggar hobbled after him, caught up, put out a hand to his greatcoat, detained him, with the plea:
"Not for the change, sir, you gave me, but who'd wish me 'Happy New Year'?"
"A friend," answered Disraeli, and was gone.
In those two words he gave a jewel from the lower ledge to one who needed the kindly touch.When men of all degrees thus meet their fellow-men, and the cheer of the soul-deep word is given, we may well think of the little child, who, even in the joy of the festal day, is still stumbling. It is not quite yet certain of those feet whose true way is still more or less obscure. Some very early faiths are beginning to tremble. Some illusions, rose-colored, are changing to gray or black. The little one is groping, a hand not yet unfriendly seeking one that will be kind and firm.
Shall the child, the unformed citizen, a future worker, perhaps ruler among men, be denied a single one of the riches that lie on the deep, lower ledges of our own broad experiences? There is the playground beckoning it on one side, the school and church on the other, the coming duties to state and God, and at this moment the crisp air, the winter-spangled stars, filled with the carols of a New Year.
There is that, within the depths of our own natures, which may guide this child, month after month, through New Year after New Year, into the full fruition of a life of humane, helpful toil. Taking from the best of ourselves what we have to give, the child may join that to what it gains of its own effort, and so perfecting itself-find every New Year but a swift step forward to that moment when not hours, but the results of honest labor, mark the passing of eternity.
"Let us not," wrote Drummond, in the closing days of his earthly life, "forget what we have on the lower ledge for the child, to the honor and the glory of the kingdom of God."

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