On the Topmost Bough

When the storms shake the vineyards and the olive trees, only the most tenacious fruit maintains its hold. When the harvesters gather the grapes and shake the olive branches, only the hidden clusters and the berries on the topmost boughs or the farthest out of reach remain. When mental storms shake humanity, only those qualities which are farthest from the earth and the supposedly solid matter of trunk and branch keep their places. The carnal mind, satiated with its fury, finds these incomprehensible qualities too distant for its grasp. The effort to bring them down would be unprofitable, it argues. In this way the choice products of tree and vine, the oil and wine, may be saved from the destructive passions of the devourer. Isaiah prophesying punishment for Israel's idolatry declared, "Yet gleaning grapes shall be left in it, as the shaking of an olive tree, two or three berries in the top of the uppermost bough, four or five in the outmost fruitful branches thereof, saith the Lord God of Israel."

Present day world conditions are similar to those described by Isaiah with reference to Israel. The idolatry of to-day takes a different form in appearance but remains the same in essence. It is the belief in the power of matter rather than Spirit, bringing forth its own destruction. The belief of life in matter, mind in matter, sensation in matter, virtually sets up images of wood and stone and metal to be worshiped, and to them the flesh is sacrificed. Though the names of Baal, Moloch, or Vishnu may not be in use, the idolatry of matter continues under other names. Indeed, the worship of the more attenuated forms of matter in human will power and so-called human intelligence has reached the very zenith of evil to-day and is ready for destruction. Under these circumstances the spiritually minded are like the berries "in the top of the uppermost bough" and "in the outmost fruitful branches." They are beyond the reach of the marauder, safe from the stones and staves of the destroyer.

Strength and Courage
May 25, 1918

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