The Father's House

There was once a little company of men whose hearts were heavy. One of their number was about to leave them, why and whither they knew not; they only knew that he was going, and they sat sorrowful and silent in the fast-falling shadows of that impending tragedy. They had supped together, as friends will on the eve of a separation, and were now listening to that beloved voice as he, their Master, so soon to be parted from them, gave his last message of hope and courage; for he knew what was before them. He knew what was before him, also; yet he prayed not for himself, but for them, that when their crucial testing time should come, they would be able to prove that in losing sight of their best earthly friend they had not lost their teacher.

That which had to be learned by those grief-stricken hearts of nineteen centuries ago, must also be learned, sooner or later, by every true disciple. Jesus' disciples had not then risen to the altitude where the Master's true relation to them was understood, and so they grieved in an altogether earthly way. The breaking of human ties seems to be but a phase of universal experience. Human relationships, founded as they are upon that which is wholly transient and material, must from their very lack of the permanency of true substance be ever subject to chance and change. Perhaps some one who reads these lines may today be realizing as never before the truth of this statement. Human sense is telling him that he is separated from that which he holds most dear, that he is alone and unhappy, home-sick and heart-sick. Those passing through this experience are many more in number than we sometimes dream, since few persons wear the heart upon the sleeve, as the saying is, for the careless crowd to see.

Perhaps it would surprise some of us if we could know how many of those who present a brave front to the world have also their moments of agony to which the silent stars alone bear witness, wherein they battle with a heart hunger a thousand times more insistent than the cry of the starving man for bread. To such may these words come with healing in their wings, calming the wild unrest of human longing with a gentle "Peace, be still." For there yet echoes, from out the twilight shadows of that "upper room," the message of the Christ, telling us that we are never alone, even in what may seem the darkest hour of our lives. Does suffering sense still cry out for "the touch of a vanished hand"? One who knew what it was to be alone, once wrote (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 306): "Oh, may you feel this touch,—it is not the clasping of hands, nor a loved person present; it is more than this: it is a spiritual idea that lights your path!"

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Christian Unity
January 16, 1915

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