Wednesday, November 4, 2009

the mystery which makes it what it is...

More on the sphere of the spirit from Thomas Treadwell Stone:

"The practical difficulty which meets men of believing tendencies and devout affections is the apparent distance of this mysterious sphere from human perception. We see, they may say, the system of nature. By day, the sun is out in fulness of splendor, and the numberless forms of earth dwell amidst its beams. By night, the moonlight calms the air and sky, and sleeps on field or forest or water, and stars stand out, indicating worlds upon worlds. But the sphere of spirit! We see no such thing; no sun, no moon, no star, no earth or sea. We try to look upon it; only one immense void, one everlasting abyss, meets our asking eye. It is as when we stretch our sight from the deck of a ship in mid-ocean; nothing meets it but empty sky and sea; nay, more, the void is such as we might dream if sea had no surface or form, sky no circle or color, an infinite vacuity. — When such doubt comes over us, let us gather our thoughts and examine the case, how it really is. If to the mind opened only on the side of the world, nature seems nearest and most real, yet to the mind once opened fully on the side of the spiritual realm, spirit becomes nearest and most real. The world, no longer all or continent of all, becomes a transparent medium of the creative light which contains, encircles, penetrates, the whole. But the power itself, the everlasting substance, of both the seen and the unseen, is always invisible. The very tree there on the hill-side, red with the gorgeous hues of this rich autumn,—who can tell those elements and powers combined, away from all perception of the five senses, which have worked through it so many years, through such changes of season, to bring it where it is now, — to constitute its very nature, to be the essence and ground of its growth and its whole form ? That one red leaf, who can describe its internal history from the first green through summer to this bright October? The question goes deeper than the sense, and leaves the naturalist pursuing an entirely different course of observations. It suggests to us, that, after all, we know, we perceive of even the tree merely certain appearances within the compass of sense, not the mystery which makes it what it is, which lives and grows through it. But as much as this we are able to know, and the enlightened mind does know, of the grander, the pervading, creative mystery, the appearances, the developments, the fruit, as the Apostle terms it, of the spirit, its natural growth into the order of life and action, — love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. As really as the fruit of autumn expresses the power working into the processes of nature, so really virtue reveals and bodies forth the power working through the greater processes of spirit."

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