On Having All Things Common

One autumn day, a woman traveling in the Far West was on her way to visit a friend whom she had not seen for years. The day was raw and cold, with a sullen mist blotting out the beautiful skyline of the city across the narrow inlet, as well as the snow-clad mountains to the north. The prospect seemed desolate, indeed. The rocky hillside was covered with gaunt, blackened stumps, where the great green pines had been; there were stretches of withered fern, and berries of the summer's wild rose among the smoky gray of the fireweed. A crow, perched on a gray rock, was the only creature in sight; the only sounds, the woman's own footsteps and the tinkle of little hidden streams running quickly to the sea.

A thought of pity for her friend shot through the traveler's heart as she went uphill on the sodden plank walk. On turning the long lane's corner, she came suddenly on the little brown house she was seeking, sheltered with a few fruit trees, and surrounded with a garden, newly made. But on entering the house, one glance at her friend's serene and radiant face was enough to show that the understanding of Christian Science, which had been gained since they last met, had made the wilderness to rejoice and blossom as the rose, whatever material difficulties yet remained to be overcome. In the fireplace of the little house was an exquisite arrangement of rich, subdued color. Standing on the red brick hearth was an old pewter flagon, in which a skillful hand had placed long sprays of the bronzed bracken, great silver heads of silky fireweed, with orange, scarlet, and crimson berries of the wild rose. The traveler, seeing their beauty thus strikingly set before her, marveled at her blindness as she came up the hill, and learned a lesson she never forgot. All that beauty had been around her as she walked; yet, until she saw it displayed by another, she appreciated none of it. When she returned, it was with her eyes opened to behold afresh the abundance of the goodness of God. She rejoiced in the idea of the fireweed, before unknown to her, which springs up wherever the devastating forest fires have raged, covering the scarred and blackened earth with its tall crimson flowers, leaving behind it in autumn its feathery seeds, like drifts of gray smoke. There was no need for her to envy her friend's bouquet; there was enough around her to fill thousands of homes with loveliness. She saw that an idea of Truth had been revealed to her that afternoon,—that as it is with the flowers of the field, so is it with spiritual substance.

What Do We Need?
November 1, 1922

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