A Garden Gleaning

THOSE who are cultivating their acquaintance with the flowers these sunny days, will not doubt the statement that Paradise was a garden, nor question that the roses and lilies are its most fitting symbols. These sweet friends win us through such simple ways, and yet how irresistible is their appeal! Who has ever buried his face in their beauty, or quaffed deeply of their proffered fragrance without wishing he were as pure and sweet as they! Facilities for acquiring the physical development, the mental alertness, and the technical skill which give promise of a coveted success, are offered us everywhere in the schools, but life's finer and worthier achievements call for the mastery of an art which we learn more surely at our mother's knee, or in the companionship of these "the children of purity and of peace."

How prodigal they are in their generosity! How indifferent to our unworthiness in the bestowal of their delights! They seem to have learned, as may we, that of the best things there is inexhaustible store; that they are brought us from gardens which never fail, in the Paradise of God. The flowers exact no pledge and impose no creed, but with delicate persuasiveness they appeal to the purer sentiments, the more refined tastes, the more spiritual aspirations. They tell us of the one Divine source of all sweetness and beauty, they tell of the infinite Artist who, in their beauteous unfoldment, is ever addressing our nobler sense, and thus they are indeed the true friends and benefactors of all who love their appearing and yield to their ministry. To listen to their teaching is to grow into their likeness.

Whatever the channel of address, this is the kindly nature of Truth's loving call, and David must have sensed it when in a prayer of grateful acknowledgment he said, "Thy gentleness [O God] hath made me great." In Christ Jesus this gentleness divine brought crushing disappointment to those who had expected they would find in him the dictatorial strenuousness of a great militant leader, but to the sorrowful and broken-hearted, to the distressed and discouraged it brought then, as it brings now, sweet comfort, the uplift of heart that makes men strong, even unto death. In all time and in all the world the re-bloom of the Christ-life has brought to humanity "beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning." It makes of the heart a fair garden, redolent with the perfume of unselfishness and love. And who shall measure the meanings of a life thus perennially "in flower," a life that floods its home and neighborhood with suggestions of heaven? What a joy to cross the threshold and find its every room scented and sweet! The charm of the rose is neither added to nor diminished by its setting; in palace or in cot it is equally beautiful and complete; thus also, does the Christ-life designate man. If in poverty, its radiance is undiminished and unimpeded. It is superior to circumstance and will ultimately come to its own. If possessed of abundance to fulfil the impulses of kindliness and love, it is still superior, and we are as glad of the lavish expenditure of the rich who are humble and saintly, as we are of the generosity of the flowers. Love's gentle supremacy has given us another glimpse of the divine ordering,—of a Paradise within where love knows no restraint and goodness no limitation. The gentleness of God has become the greatness of men. This is the true life,—a "fruit of the Spirit," as Paul names it,—and to the sensitive seeker the flowers disclose its pattern.

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The Book of the Presidents
July 8, 1905

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