Margaret Prescott, “Twenty Minutes in Reality” – Atlantic Monthly 1916
I was lying on a cot on the porch of a hospital at the time, convalescing after a serious illness.
It was an ordinary, cloudy March day. I am glad to think it was. I am glad to remember that there was nothing extraordinary about the weather, nor any un-usualness of setting – no flush of spring or beauty of scenery – to induce what I saw. It was, to the contrary, almost a dingy day.
Yet here, in this very ordinary setting, and entirely unexpectedly (for I had never dreamed of such a thing), my eyes were opened, and for the first time in all my life I caught a glimpse of the ecstatic beauty of reality.
I cannot now recall whether the revelation came suddenly or gradually;
I only remember finding myself in the very midst of those wonderful moments, beholding life for the first time in all its young intoxication of loveliness, in its unspeakable joy, beauty and importance.
I cannot say exactly what the mysterious change was. I saw no new thing,
but I saw all the usual things in a miraculous new light
– in what I believe is their true light.
I saw for the first time how wildly beautiful and joyous, beyond any words
to describe, is the whole of life.
Every human being moving across that porch, every sparrow that flew, every branch tossing in the wind, was caught in and was part of the whole mad ecstasy of loveliness, of joy, of importance, of intoxication of life.
It was not that for a few keyed-up moments I IMAGINED all existence so beautiful, but that my inner vision was cleared to the truth,
so that I SAW the actual loveliness which is always there, but which we so rarely perceive; and I knew that every man, woman, bird and tree, every living thing before me, was extravagantly beautiful and extravagantly important.
And as I beheld, my heart melted out of me in a rapture of love and delight.
For those glorified moments I was in love with every living thing before me – the trees in the wind, the little birds flying, the nurses, the interns, and the people who came and went.
There was nothing that was alive that was not a miracle. Just to be alive was a miracle in itself. My very soul flowed out of me in a great joy.
For those fleeting lovely moments I did in deed and in truth love my neighbour as myself. Nay more: of myself I was hardly conscious, while with my neighbour in every form, from wind-tossed branches and little sparrows flying, up to human beings, I was madly in love.
This is how, for me, all fear of eternity has been wiped away.
I have found a little taste of bliss, and if Heaven can offer this, no eternity will be too long to enjoy the miracle of existence.
But that was not the greatest thing those twenty minutes revealed, and that did most to end all fear of life everlasting.
The great thing was the realisation that weariness and boredom, and questions as to the use of it all, belong entirely to unreality. When once we wake to REALITY – whether we do so here or have to wait for the next life for it, we shall never be bored, for in REALITY there is no such thing.
* * * * * * *
Hmmm – food for thought. But why wait until then to be giving thanks for all the beauty and loveliness He has given us?
Keep giving thanks now, always
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