Courage Through Companionship
THE world is full of lonely people--people who keep to themselves,
turning away from every approach of others, from all invitations to come
out of retirement. They persist in living alone, thinking their own
thoughts, pleasing only themselves.
"I can have no place in my life for friendship," one of these
"I can't be expected to devote myself to my family; it is all I can d
to make a living," is the complaint of another.
"I live in the present," says a third; "the past has no interest for me,
and the future holds nothing but worries."
"Live more out-of-doors, you say!" is the word of a fourth. "Why should
I bother about Nature when Nature does nothing but thwart me?"
"Make God my friend?" a fifth asks in surprise. "Talk to me in rational
terms. God doesn't bother about me; why should I bother about Him?"
Is it any wonder that the lives of so many everywhere are empty? It does
not occur to them that by their determination to isolate themselves they
cut themselves off from the surest road to courage, both received and
given--the road of companionship with the people and things most worth
COMPANIONSHIP WITH FRIENDS
There are those who say that friendship is a lost art; that modern life
is too busy for friendship. "Why don't you pause long enough to call on
B----?" a father asked his son; "you used to be such good friends." "Oh,
I haven't time for that now," was the careless reply; "if I am to get
ahead, I feel I must devote myself only to those things that can be a
decided help to my advancement."
The mistake made by that son is emphasized by the advice of a keen old
man, spoken to a business associate: "If I were asked to give advice to
a group of young men who wanted to get ahead in business, I would simply
say, 'make friends.' As I sat before the fire the other night I let my
mind run back, and it was with surprise that I learned that many of the
things which in my youth I credited to my ability as a business man came
to me because I had made influential friends who did things for me
because they liked me. The man who is right has the right kind of
friends, and the man who is wrong has the kind of friends who are
attracted by his wrongness. A man gets what he is."
Possibly some will think that advice faulty in expression, for it seems
at first glance to put friendship on a coldly calculating basis, as if
it urged the maker of friends to say before consenting to try for a
man's friendship, "Is there anything I can get out of such a friendship
for myself?" Of course it is unthinkable that anyone should estimate
friendship in that way; friendship that calculates is unworthy the name,
and the calculator ought to be doomed to the loneliest kind of life.
But, evidently, what the adviser had in mind is the spirit that makes
friends because it is worth while to have friends for friendship's sake,
that never counts on advancement through the efforts of others. Such a
spirit is bound to be surprised some day by the realization that for his
success he owed much to the friends whom he made without a thought of
One beginner in business decided that he must find his friendships in
serving others. There were those who told him he was making a mistake,
but he went calmly on, devoting hours each week to service with an
associate in a boys' club. Nothing seemed to come of this but
satisfaction to himself and joy to a group whose homes were cheerless.
Yet, there was something more--the pleasure of friendship with his
associate. One day he was surprised by an invitation to call on the head
of a large manufacturing concern. "You don't know me," the man said,
"but I know you, for you have been teaching with my son down at the
boys' club. For a long time I have been on the lookout for a young man
who can come into this business with a view to taking up the work with
my son when I must retire. From what I have heard your friend, my son,
tell of you, you are the man I have sought."
It is impossible to count on a thing like that as a result of
friendship, and the man who is worthy of such a friendship never thinks
of reckoning on anything but giving to his friend the best that is in
him as he enjoys the comfort of association with him.
Many years ago the author of The Four Feathers wrote of such a
friendship between two men:
"It was a helpful instrument, which would not wear out, put into their
hands for a hard, lifelong use, but it was not and never had been spoken
of between them. Both men were grateful for it, as for a rare and
undeserved gift; yet both knew that it might entail an obligation of
sacrifice. But the sacrifices, were they needful, would be made, and
they would not be mentioned."
It has been well said that "Love gives and receives, and keeps no
account on either side," but that is very different from deliberately
using friendship for selfish ends.
For days two men had been together, tramping, driving, boating, eating,
sleeping, talking. And when the time for separation came, one said to
the other: "Will you please give a message to your wife? Tell her for
me, if you will, that she has made her husband into a real comrade."
That man would have been at a loss to tell what are the elements that go
to the making up of a good comrade. In fact, he intimated as much on the
last day of the excursion. "You can no more tell the things that go to
make up a real comrade than you can explain the things that make a
landscape beautiful; you can only see and rejoice."
Just so, it is possible to see instances of good comradeship and
In order that there may be real comradeship between two individuals it
is not at all necessary that they shall belong to the same station in
life. One of those to whom John Muir, the great naturalist, proved
himself a true comrade was a guide who many times went with him into the
fastnesses of the high Sierras of California. "It was great to hear him
talk," the guide has said. "Often we sat together like two men who had
always known each other. It wasn't always necessary to talk; often there
would be no word said for half an hour. But we understood each other in
Nor is it essential that people shall be much together before they can
be real comrades. Theodore Roosevelt and Joel Chandler Harris knew one
another by reputation only until the red letter day when Uncle Remus
entered the door of the White House, in response to an urgent letter of
invitation in which the President wrote: "Presidents may come and
presidents may go, but Uncle Remus stays put. Georgia has done a great
many things for the Union, but she has never done more than when she
gave Joel Chandler Harris to American literature." When the two
animal-lovers finally came together there was real comradeship. That the
reporters understood this was evident from the wire one of them sent to
his paper: "Midnight--Mr. Harris has not returned to his hotel. The
White House is ablaze with light. It is said that Mr. Harris is telling
the story of Br'er Rabbit and the Tar Baby." But the Georgian's own
colloquial account of the memorable session with his comrade at
Washington was more explicit:
"There are things about the White House that'll astonish you ef ever you
git there while Teddy is on hand. It's a home; it'll come over you like
a sweet dream the minnit you git in the door.... It's a kind of feelin'
that you kin have in your own house, if you've lived right, but it's the
rarest thing in the world that you kin find it in anybody else's
house.... We mostly talked of little children an' all the pranks they're
up to from mornin' till night, an' how they draw old folks into all
sorts of traps, and make 'em play tricks on themselves. That's the
kinder talk I like, an' I could set up long past my bedtime an' listen
to it. Jest at the right time, the President would chip in wi' some of
his adventures wi' the children.... I felt just like I had been on a
visit to some old friend that I hadn't seen in years."
When Robert Louis Stevenson and Edward Livingston Trudeau spent days
together at Dr. Trudeau's Adirondack sanitarium--the one as patient, the
other as physician--they proved that true comradeship is possible even
when men's tastes are most unlike. It was possible because they knew how
to ignore differences and to find common ground in the worth-while
things. "My life interests were bound up in the study of facts, and in
the laboratory I bowed duly to the majesty of fact, wherever it might
lead," Dr. Trudeau wrote. "Mr. Stevenson's view was to ignore or avoid
as much as possible unpleasant facts, and live in a beautiful,
extraneous and ideal world of fancy. I got him one day into the
laboratory, from which he escaped at the first opportunity.... On the
other hand, I knew well I could not discuss intelligently with him the
things he lived among and the masterly work he produced, because I was
incompetent to appreciate to the full the wonderful situations his
brilliant mind evolved and the high literary merit of the work in which
he described the flights of his great genius."
Yet these two men were great companions, for in spite of differences as
to details, their hopes and ambitions and ideals all pointed to the best
things in life. After the author's departure, he sent to the doctor a
splendidly bound set of his works, first writing in each volume a
whimsical bit of rhyme, composed for the occasion.
Though all of these men were real comrades, there is a higher
manifestation of comradeship than this. This was shown in the relation
of Daniel Coit Gilman, later President of Johns Hopkins University, when
he wrote to a fellow student of the deepest things in his life:
"I don't wish merely to thank you in a general way for writing as you
did an expression of sympathy, but more especially to respond to the
sentiments on Christian acquaintance which you there bring out. I agree
with you most fully and only regret that I did not know at an earlier
time upon our journey what were your feelings upon a few such topics. I
tell you, Brace, that I hate cant and all that sort of thing as much as
you or anyone else can do. It is not with everyone that I would enjoy a
talk upon religious subjects. I hardly ever wrote a letter on them to
those I know best. But when anyone believes in an inner life of faith
and joy, and is willing to talk about it in an earnest, everyday style
and tone, I do enjoy it most exceedingly."
Theodore Storrs Lee cultivated the relation of a comrade with his fellow
students that he might talk to them, without cant, on the deepest things
of life. His biographer says: "Many a time did he seek out men in lonely
rooms, bewildered or weakened by the college struggles. Many a quiet
talk did he have as he and his selected companion trod his favorite
walk. No one else in college had so many intimate talks with so many
men.... On one occasion, when he was urging a friend to give his life to
Christian service, he seemed to be unsuccessful--until, on leaving the
man at the close of the walk, he made a genial, large-minded remark that
opened the way to the heart of his friend." ... "It was only natural
that I should try to meet him half-way," the friend said later, in
explanation of his own changed attitude. He had been won by real
comradeliness. "It was this devotion to the men in college that led him
into the holy of holies of many a man's heart," wrote a friend, "causing
many of us to feel in a very real way the sentiment expressed by Mrs.
"The face of all the world is changed, I think
Since first I heard the footsteps of thy soul."
COMPANIONSHIP WITH THE PAST
What, courage from companionship with the past? The pessimist says,
"Impossible! The past was so much better than the present. See how the
country is going to the dogs!" and they point to the revelations of
dishonesty in high places. "There were no such blots on our records when
the country was young."
A public man gave an effective answer to such croakers when he said:
"As we go on year by year reading in the newspapers of the dreadful
things that are occurring; wicked rich men, wicked politicians and
wicked men of all kinds, we are apt to feel that we have fallen on very
evil times. But are we any worse than our fathers were? John Adams, in
1776, was Secretary of War. He wrote a letter which is still in
existence, and told of the terrible corruption that prevailed in the
country; he told how everybody was trying to rob the soldiers, rob the
War Department, and he said he was really ashamed of the times in which
he lived. When Jefferson was President of the United States it was
thought that the whole country was going to be given over to French
infidelity. When Jackson was President people thought the country
ruined, because of his action in regard to the United States Bank. And
we know how in Polk's time the Mexican War was an era of rascality and
dishonesty that appalled the whole country."
It is a mistake to look back a generation or two and say, "The good old
days were better than these." In the address already referred to the
"Only thirty years ago, on my first visit to California, I went with a
friend to the mining district in the Sierras. One summer evening we sat
upon the flume looking over the landscape. My friend was a distinguished
man of great ability. In the distance the sun was setting, reflecting
its light on the dome of the Capitol of the state, at Sacramento, twenty
miles off. He turned to me and said suddenly: 'I would like to be you
for one reason, that you are thirty years younger than I am, and they
are going to be thirty of the greatest years the world has ever seen.'
He is dead now, but his words were prophetic. He and I used to talk
about how we could send power down into the mines. An engine would fill
the mine with smoke and gases, and yet we must have power to run the
drills, etc., using compressed air. How easy to-day, just to drop a wire
down and send the power of electricity! At that time there was but a
single railroad running across the continent, which took a single
sleeping car each day. Look at the difference now, with six great trunk
lines sending out more than a dozen trains, and more than a hundred
sleeping cars each day."
Students of American history know something of the fears of early
adherents of the United States Government lest the republic prove a
failure, and of the threats of doubters and disaffected citizens to do
their best to replace the republic by a monarchy. But comparatively few
realize how great were the fears, and how brazenly the prophecies were
An examination of "The Complete Anas of Thomas Jefferson," the
collection of private memoranda made by the patriot when he was
successively Secretary of State, Vice-President, and President,
discloses the fact that some of the gravest of these fears were held by
those high in authority, and that the prophecies of evil came from men
who were leaders in the nation.
On April 6, 1792, President Washington, in conversation with Jefferson,
"expressed his fear that there would, ere long, be a separation of the
Union, that the public mind seemed dissatisfied and tending to this." On
October 1, 1792, he spoke to the Secretary of his desire to retire at
the end of his term as President. "Still, however, if his aid was
thought necessary to save the cause to which he had devoted his life
principally, he would make the sacrifice of a longer continuance."
On April 7, 1793, Tobias Lear, in conversation with Jefferson, spoke
pessimistically of the affairs of the country. The debt, he was sure,
was growing on the country in spite of claims to the contrary. He said
that "the man who vaunted the present government so much on some
occasions was the very man who at other times declared that it was a
poor thing, and such a one as could not stand, and he was sensible they
only esteemed it as a stepping-stone to something else."
On December 1, 1793, an influential Senator (name given) said to several
of his fellow Senators that things would never go right until there was
a President for life, and a hereditary Senate.
On December 27, 1797, Jefferson said that Tenche Coxe told him that a
little before Alexander Hamilton went out of office, he said: "For my
part I avow myself a monarchist; I have no objection to a trial being
made of this thing of a republic, but, ... etc."
On February 6, 1798, it was reported to Jefferson that a man of
influence in the Government had said, "I have made up my mind on this
subject; I would rather the old ship should go down than not." Later he
qualified his words, making his statement hypothetical, by adding, "if
we are to be always kept pumping so."
On January 24, 1800, it was reported to Jefferson that, at a banquet in
New York, Alexander Hamilton made no remark when the health of the
President was proposed, but that he asked for three cheers when the
health of George III was suggested.
On March 27, 1800, the Anas record: "Dr. Rush tells me that within a few
days he has heard a member of Congress lament our separation from Great
Britain, and express his sincere wishes that we were again dependent on
On December 13, 1803, Jefferson told of the coming to President Adams of
a minister from New England who planned to solicit funds in New England
for a college in Green County, Tennessee. He wished to have the
President's endorsement of the project. But "Mr. Adams ... said he saw
no possibility of continuing the union of the States; that their
dissolution must take place; that he therefore saw no propriety in
recommending to New England men to promote a literary institution in the
South; that it was in fact giving strength to those who were to be their
enemies, and, therefore, he would have nothing to do with it."
One who reads bits like these from Jefferson's private papers
appreciates more fully some of the grave difficulties that confronted
the country's early leaders; he rejoices more than ever before that the
United States emerged so triumphantly from troubled waters until, little
more than a century after those days of dire foreboding, it was showing
other nations the way to democracy; he takes courage in days of present
doubt and uncertainty, assured that the country which has already
weathered so many storms will continue to solve its grave problems, and
will be more than ever a beacon light to the world.
COMPANIONSHIP WITH NATURE
"Look at the World," is the advice David Grayson gives to those who
follow him in his delightful essays on Great Possessions--possessions
that cannot be measured with a yardstick or entered in the bank book.
This is his cure for all the trials and vexations that come in the
course of a busy life. For how can a man remain unsettled and morose and
distressed when he is gazing at the broad expanse of the sky, studying
the beauty of the trees, or listening to the mellow voices of the birds?
How can the wanderer in field and forest forget that God is love?
Some people think that to drink in the glories of nature they must go to
the mountains, or seek some other far-away spot. Mistake! The place to
enjoy God's world is just where one is, and the time is that very
moment. This was the lesson taught so impressively by Alice Freeman
Palmer, when she described the little dweller in the tenements who
resolved to see something beautiful each day, and who, one day, when
confined to the house, found her something in watching a rain-soaked
sparrow drinking from the gutter on the tin roof. And this was the
thought in the mind of Mr. Grayson when he said:
"I love a sprig of white cedar, especially the spicy, sweet inside bark,
or a pine needle, or the tender, sweet, juicy end of a spike of timothy
grass drawn slowly from its sheath, or a twig of the birch that tastes
Hamlin Garland, in "A Son of the Middle Border," has told the story of
his boyhood on an Iowa farm. He knew how to enjoy the sights to which so
many are blind:
"I am reliving days when the warm sun, falling on radiant slopes of
grass, lit the meadow phlox and tall tiger lilies to flaming torches of
color. I think of blackberry thickets and odorous grapevines, and
cherry-trees and the delicious nuts which grew in profusion throughout
the forest to the north. The forest, which seemed endless and was of
enchanted solemnity, served as our wilderness. We explored it at every
opportunity. We loved every day for the color it brought, each season
for the wealth of its experiences, and we welcomed the thought of
spending all our years in this beautiful home where the wood and the
prairie of our song did actually meet and mingle.... I studied the
clouds. I gnawed the beautiful red skin from the seed vessels which hung
upon the wild rose bushes, and I counted the prairie chickens as they
began to come together in winter flocks, running through the stubble in
search of food. I stopped now and again to examine the lizards unhoused
by the shares, ... and I measured the little granaries of wheat which
the mice and gophers had deposited deep under the ground, storehouses
which the plow had violated. My eyes dwelt enviously on the sailing hawk
and on the passing of ducks.... Often of a warm day I heard the
sovereign cry of the sand-hill crane falling from the azure throne, so
high, so far, his form could not be seen, so close to the sun that my
eyes could not detect his solitary, majestic, circling sweep.... His
brazen, reverberating call will forever remain associated in my mind
with mellow, pulsating earth, spring grass and cloudless glorious
Henry Fawcett lived at about the same period in a rural district in
England. He, too, delighted to ramble in the fields. One day, when he
was out hunting with his father, an accidental gunshot deprived him of
his eyesight. But the boy would not think of shutting himself away from
the joys of nature which meant so much to him. "I very soon came to the
resolution to live, as far as possible, just as I had lived before....
No one can more enjoy catching a salmon in the Tweed of the Spey, or
throwing a fly in some quiet trout stream in Wiltshire or Hampshire."
In the story of the life of John J. Audubon an incident is told that
shows how the greatest joy can be found in what seems like one of the
most ordinary things in the life of the forest--the nesting of the
"He became interested in a bird, not as large as the wren, of such
peculiar grey plumage that it harmonized with the bark of the trees, and
could scarcely be seen. One night he came home greatly excited, saying
he had found a pair that was evidently preparing to make a nest. The
next morning he went into the woods, taking with him a telescopic
microscope. The scientific instrument he erected under the tree that
gave shelter to the literally invisible inhabitants he was searching
for, and, making a pillow of some moss, he lay upon his back, and
looking through the telescope, day after day, noted the progress of the
little birds, and, after three weeks of such patient labor, felt that he
had been amply rewarded for the toil and the sacrifice by the results he
When a boy David Livingstone laid the foundation for the love of the
open that helped to make his life in Africa a never-ending delight.
"Before he was ten he had wandered all over the Clyde banks about
Blantyre and had begun to collect and wonder at shells and flowers," one
of his biographers says.
Not far away, also in Scotland, Henry Drummond spent his boyhood. He,
too, knew the pleasure of wandering afield. He liked to go to the rock
on which stands grim Stirling Castle, and look away to the windings of
the crooked Forth, the green Ochil Hills, and, farther away, Ben Lomond,
Ben Venue, and Ben Ledi, the guardians of the beautiful Highland lochs.
He was never weary of feasting his eyes on them. In later years he would
go back to the scenes of his boyhood, climb to the Castle, and, looking
out on the beautiful prospect, would say "Man, there's no place like
this; no place like Scotland."
Bayard Taylor first made a name for himself by his ability to see the
things that many people pass by, and to describe them sympathetically.
But he, also, in boyhood days learned the lesson that paved the way for
later achievements. He was not six years old when he used to wander to a
fascinating swamp near his Pennsylvania home. If the child was missed
from the house, the first thing that suggested itself was to climb upon
a mound which overlooked the swamp. Once, from the roof of the house, he
discovered unknown forests and fresh fields which he made up his mind to
explore. Later, in company with a Quaker schoolmaster, he took long
walks, and thus learned many things about the trees and plants. When he
was twelve he began to write out the thoughts that came to him in this
intimate study of nature.
In far-away Norway Ole Bull had a like experience. At an early age he
began to be on familiar terms with the silent things about him. The
quality of his later work was influenced by the grandeur of the scenery
in which he lived. To him trees, rocks, waterfalls, mountains, all spoke
a language which demanded expression through the strings of his violin;
he turned everything into music. His biographer says:
"When, in early childhood, playing alone in the meadow, he saw a
delicate bluebell moving in the breeze, he fancied he heard the bell
ring, and the grass accompanying it with most exceptionally fine
John Muir, who later wrote of the great Sequoias of California and the
glaciers of Alaska, when a boy of ten found delight in scenes of which
he wrote as follows:
"Oh, that glorious Wisconsin wilderness! Everything new and pure in the
very prime of spring, when nature's pulses were beating highest and
mysteriously keeping tune with our own! Young hearts, young leaves,
flowers, animals, the winds and the streams and the sparkling lake, all
wildly, gladly rejoicing together."
There is something missing in the life of one who cannot enter into the
feelings of a boy like Muir or Taylor or Drummond. And when such a boy
grows up, the gap in the life will be more conspicuous than ever.
Think of the poverty of the stranger to whom a traveler, feeling that he
must give expression to his keen delight in the autumn foliage, said,
"What wonderful coloring!" "Where?" came the reply. "Oh, the trees!
Well, I'm not interested in trees. Talk to me about coal. I know coal."
COMPANIONSHIP WITH GOD
Some people insist that it is impractical moonshine to speak of making a
companion of God, that folks who talk about such things are dreamers,
far removed from touch with the cold reality of daily life.
Then how about the nephew of whom Dr. Alexander MacColl told at
Northfield? He was surely a practical man. For four years he had been in
the thick of the fighting in France. Yet at the close of one of his
letters to his uncle he said: "I hope when the war is over that I may
be able to spend a month somewhere among the hills. I often think that
if more people in the world had lived among such hills as we have in
Scotland there would have been no world war."
"When I came yesterday afternoon, and saw again the glory of these
hills," was Dr. MacColl's comment, "I found myself sharing very deeply
in that feeling of my good nephew, and wishing that more people in the
world had known what it is to commune with God in the silences."
That fine young Scotchman would have known how to take a college student
who, while having a country walk with a friend, was explaining the
reason for his belief in God and his trust in Him. As he concluded his
message he pointed to a large tree which they were passing, saying as he
did so, "God is as real to me as that tree."
He had a right to say such a thing, for he not only believed, but he was
conscious that God was with him, his Companion wherever he went. This
being the case, prayer became for him the simplest and most natural
thing in the world. God was by his side; then why should not he talk to
God, by ejaculation as well as by more formal utterance? Yet his talks
with God never became formal. They were always intimate and
confidential--like the approaches of Principal John Cairns, the famous
Scotch minister. His biographer tells of a time when he was at the manse
of a country minister in whose church he was to preach next day. The
minister's wife withdrew to get a cup of tea for the old man, leaving
her little boy there. By and by she heard a strange, unaccustomed sound,
as it seemed to her under such conditions. And as she listened and
looked, she saw that the old man was kneeling with the boy. It had
seemed to him the most natural thing in the world to speak to his Great
Friend about his little friend.
Dr. Arthur Smith was like that with God, and his son Henry took after
him. One January day in 1905 the father reached New York from China and
sought his son. They went to a hotel room to bridge the time of absence
by "a tremendous lot of back conversation," as the son wrote to the
mother. But before they had any chance to talk of other matters the
father said, "Come, boy, let's have a prayer." "Wasn't that just like
him?" Henry asked his mother.
A minister who was spending his vacation in the northern woods was
called in to see a dying lumberman. Before leaving the visitor prayed
with the sick man, and suggested that he pray for himself. The objection
was made that it was useless to pray--God understood a man's trials, and
He knew what was wanted before a request was made. The minister asked
him if he didn't know what his children needed before they asked him, if
he didn't know they were disappointed or troubled; yet didn't he wish to
have them talk over these things with him?
The man thought a moment. Then he said, "Do you think that would be
prayer--just for me to lie here and tell God what He knows already--how
it hurts, and all my disappointment, and my anxiety for the future of my
children and my wife--and everything--just to tell Him?"
"I think it would," said the minister. "I think it would be prayer of a
very real kind."
One who had learned that prayer is not a mere formal exercise, to be
dreaded and postponed, has said:
"Pray often--in bits, with a persistency of habit that betrays a
childlike eagerness and absorption. Rise up to question God as children
do their earthly parents--at morning, noon and night and between times.
Ask Him about everything. Be with Him more than with all other persons.
Acquire the home habit with Him. Be a child in His hands. Do not fear
lest He be too busy to listen, or too grown up to care or to understand.
Just talk to Him, in broken sentences, half-formed with crude wishes; in
foolish chatter, if need be. Make the Heavenly Father the center of your
life, the source and judge of all your satisfactions. Be sure to let Him
put you to bed, waken you in the morning, wait on you at table, order
your day's doings, protect you from harm, soothe your disquiet, supply
all your daily needs."
Such a prayer is good, not only when one is sick, but when one is well
and busy with the affairs of daily life. A clergyman has told of a visit
to London during which he called on a merchant whom he had met in
America. At the business house he was told that he could not see the
merchant, as it was steamer day, and orders had been given not to
disturb him. But when the card was taken up, the merchant appeared, his
face beaming with pleasure. After a moment's greeting the visitor
offered to go away, but the merchant took him into his office, and said:
"I am very glad you have called. I would not have had you fail. I am
very busy, but I always have a moment for my Lord. I have a little
place for private prayer. You must come in with me, and we shall have a
season of prayer together."
Busy, but not too busy for prayer, longing to see his friend, but eager
to spend the ten minutes of the call in prayer with that other Friend
who made the brief visit worth while!
In telling this incident, one writer on the subject of prayer has said:
"Several, perhaps many merchants in one of our large cities have fitted
up for themselves dark, narrow, boxlike closets, whither, each by
himself, they are wont to retire for a few minutes at times, during the
pressure of the day's business, for the refreshment of soul, which they
find they really need in communion with God. One of these men is
reported to have said: 'On some days, if I had not that resort, I
believe I should go mad, so great is the pressure.'"
Dr. Purves once told an incident of the distinguished scientist,
Professor Joseph Henry, as given him by one of Dr. Henry's students. "I
well remember the wonderful care with which he arranged all his
principal experiments. Then often, when the testing moment came, that
holy as well as great philosopher would raise his hand in adoring
reverence and call upon me to uncover my head and worship in silence,
'because,' he said, 'God is here. I am about to ask God a question.'"
To Mary Slessor of Calabar, whom the Africans learned to love devotedly,
prayer was as simple and easy as talking to a friend in the room. "Her
religion was a religion of the heart," her biographer says. "Her
communion with her Father was of the most natural, most childlike
character. No rule or habit guided her. She just spoke to Him as a child
to its father when she needed help and strength, or when her heart was
filled with joy and gratitude, at any time, in any place. He was so real
to her, so near, that her words were almost of the nature of
conversation. There was no formality, no self-consciousness, no
stereotyped diction, only the simplest language from a quiet and humble
heart. It is told of her that once, when she was in Scotland, after a
tiresome journey, she sat down at the tea table alone, and, lifting up
her eyes, said, 'Thank you, Father--ye ken I'm tired,' in the most
ordinary way as if she had been addressing her friend. On another
occasion in the country, she lost her spectacles while coming from a
meeting in the dark. She could not do without them, and she prayed
simply and directly, 'O Father, give me back my spectacles!' A lady
asked her how she obtained such intimacy with God. 'Ah, woman,' she
said, 'when I am out there in the bush, I have often no other one to
speak to but my Father, and I just talk to Him....'"
"I just talk to Him!" There is the secret of getting and keeping close
to the Father, the most worth-while Companion we can possibly have with
us on country walk, on vacation excursion, amid business perplexities,
in the desert or in the thronged city street, when the days are crowded
with burdens, or when the time of rest after work has come.
Try Him and see if it is not so.