Thursday, March 21, 2013

Thursday, March 21, 2013

A Parable of Spring

Once upon a time there was an enchanted forest. It had been stripped of all verdure, it was wild and forbidding. The trees, tossed by the bitter winter wind that never ceased, struck one another with a sound as of breaking swords. When at last, after a long series of freezing nights and sunless days that seemed like nights, all living things trembled with the first call of spring, the trees became afraid of the sap that began to move within them. And the solitary and bitter spirit that had its dwelling within the hard bark of each of them said very low, with a shudder that came up from the deepest roots: "Have a care! If thou art the first to risk yielding to the wooing of the new season, if thou art the first to turn thy lance-like buds into blossoms and leaves, their delicate raiment will be torn by the rough blows of the trees that have been slower to put forth leaves and flowers."

And the proud and melancholy spirit that was shut up within the great Druidical oak spoke to its tree with peculiar insistence: "And wilt thou, too, seek to join the universal love-feast, thou whose noble branches have been broken by the storm?"

Thus, in the enchanted forest, mutual distrust drove back the sap, and pro- longed the death-like winter even after the call of spring.

What happened at last? By what mysterious influence was the grim charm broken? Did some tree find the courage to act alone, like those April poplars that break into a shower of verdure, and give from afar the signal for a renewal of all life? Or did a warmer and more life- giving beam start the sap moving in all the trees at once? For lo! in a single day the whole forest burst forth into a magnificent flowering of joy and peace.

Jean Léon Jaurès (1859-1914)

New Arts and Lost Instincts

The civilized man has built a coach, but has lost the use of his feet. He is supported on crutches, but lacks so much support of muscle. He has got a fine Geneva watch, but he has lost the skill to tell the hour by the sun. A Greenwich nautical almanac he has, and so being sure of the information when he wants it, the man in the street does not know a star in the sky. The solstice he does not observe; the equinox he knows as little; and the whole bright calendar of the year is without a dial in his mind. His note-books impair his memory; his libraries overload his wit; the insurance office increases the number of accidents; and it may be a question whether machinery does not encumber; whether we have not lost by refinement some energy, by a Christianity entrenched in establishments and forms some vigor of wild virtue.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

Freedom in Religion

In religion, more than in politics, I seek for freedom. The State may, with more reason, demand conformity. It cannot exist without a certain amount of conformity. And the requisition presses mostly, too, upon the outward life. I  might live, all my life, under a despotism, and never,  perhaps, be obliged to say, that I believed what I did  not believe; or to lose my life, or property, or reputation, if I did not. But religion is a thought, a feeling, a communion with the Infinite, a stretching onward to immortality; and nothing is so painful to it as any fetter or chain. To have pontiff, or prelate, or presbytery, or creed, stand before me and say — "thus far;  no farther, at your peril!" — I could bear any thing better than that. And I had rather take the worst possible church organization with freedom, than the best possible — if such a thing could be — without it.

Orville Dewey (died March 21, 1882)

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