CHRISTINA G. ROSETTI
Here in solitude and peace My soul was nurst, amid the loveliest scenes Of unpoluted nature.
For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace; the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
Nature is too thin a screen; the glory of the One breaks in everywhere,
- November Comes to the North Country
- Frozen Memories
- Silence, Solitude, Tranquillity
- Christmas Scene
- January Promise
- The Moods of March
- Exhausting the North
- A Prayer
COMES TO THE NORTH
NOVEMBER COMES TO THE NORTH COUNTRY
The last of the fall leaves has gently floated to its place in the great multi-colored carpet that covers the forest halls. The trees stand tall, virile, defiant, like gladiators stripped for the fray. Towering pines, conspicuous in the denuded forests, stand out like sentries, joyous in their courage and strength. Deer, spirited by the mating call, are shy and elusive. A blue haze hangs over the countryside, as though the visible essence of wilderness. Not a man-made sound breaks the stillness. Only the sharp cry of birds of prey, the call of a belated loon, the distant howl of the wolf, and perhaps the startling shriek of a wildcat echo on the stoical shores. The Wilderness Gods, having loaned the forest to man for a season, have returned, and reign supreme! Nature, savage, untamed, unrelenting, unafraid, ‘red-of-tooth and claw” awaits the coming of winter in deep, deep silence.
The heart-warming gratefire wearies of its flames and subsides into a softly glowing bed of coals, in whose waving radiation are written priceless dreams and memories. Let no other light dim this glow, which casts grotesque, dancing shadows, but illumines the very chambers of the soul. There are pictures playing on that screen of embers, cherished pictures which the Power of Mammon could not buy!
Beneath that fallen log, whose ends still grip the andirons while its center falls to coals, lies a scene once thought forgotten. A canoe glides through long stretches of white water, its paddlers tired by long, hard travel. They swing precariously near to submerged dangers, scanning always the rock-bound shores with anxious eyes for a spot to camp. But it is a rugged country, and campsites are none too numerous. They move out on the open waters of mighty Lac Le Croix just as the sun dips its lower edge in the liquid horizon. Now they strain tired muscles to meet a stubborn head-wind,
In that coal near the backlog, fringed with white ashes like the first, sweet touch of age, lies the image of one perfect day. It is high
In that mass of embers, where tiny blue flames play, lies a memory near too sacred for words. Night! Afloat on placid waters, so still we seem suspended in the midst of the sparkling, heavenly hosts. Not a motion,—just to sit in spell-bound wonder at the sphere of miracles which we center! Comes a moment of supreme stillness! Even the canoe ceases its drifting, and all Nature stands in reverent expectancy. The eastern sky lights with transcendent glow, and over the serrated tree tops
* * *
The embers burn low, and the heart rests in dreams. Far, far north the white waters, the lakes, the woodland flowers and trees—all lie silent in the spell of winter. Frozen Memories! But tomorrow the magic rays of the sun will warm them to life, just as the glow of the gratefire has this night quickened them in thought. And who shall say that they were more real in that hour when first lived, than in these fireside meditations? They are now enriched by understanding, and endeared a thousand fold. If dreams stir hearts and thoughts—lead us into deeper love—are they not another phase of reality?
SILENCE, SOLITUDE, TRANQUILLITY
SILENCE, SOLITUDE, TRANQUILLITY
Have you ever stood on the crest of a hill, and looked out on vast reaches of snow-bound forest? The great white carpet of winter softens even the tread of the winds, and seems as visible stillness. The manly pines stand soundless, as a finger held to the lips of nature, and even the sighing of their leaves in the wind but deepens the solitude. The purity of the scene erases from thought all memory of the aimless maelstrom of cities, and for the moment you hear voices which utter no sound, but tell of the depth of Life. Here is the Kingdom of Silence!
Have you ever stridden through forest aisles to the rhythmic swing of snowshoes, and come to the ice-bound shores of a sleeping, virgin lake? The dainty balsams hold in their mendicant arms lovely bundles of snow, which sifts gently earthward with each stirring breeze. Not an animal stirs, and nowhere is the footprint of man. The wilderness continues its dreams, unmindful of the intruder. You are alone, but not lonely, you are a speck in an infinite sea yet
Have you ever sat before a glowing fireplace, gloriously tired by the journey to the lands of Silence and Solitude? The dancing flames bring warmth to the body, and peaceful thought to the soul. The cold of the night only deepens the quiet joys of the fireside. In the sweet contentment of the moment, not a wayward thought tempts the mind. The night air sings with a spiritual melody. And where, in a heart which has dipped up the treasures of Reality, can hatred, resentment, or malice find place? Love floods all consciousness, and the world glows in a new understanding. Here—here is the Kingdom of Tranquillity!
We once looked on a vast spruce swamp at Christmas and ever since all beauty has suffered in comparison!
The valley opened suddenly at our feet, as if a spontaneous creation, while we were snow-shoeing through pine-covered highlands in the north. Instantly we christened it “Surprise
Valley,” after the manner of its introduction, and later retained the name because of its resourcefulness in ever revealing new charm. A prehistoric lake had carved out this fairyland, and the ancient shoreline was still definitely outlined. Through unrecorded years the waters had seeped away to the sea, the great basin now being lined with soft sphagnum moss, out of which had sprung legions of lowland spruce, perfect of form and charming of character.
Stand with us as we again look into this cradle of wonders! Forget sensual-limitation and the restrictions of time and space while we contemplate Nature in its most reverent mood!
Each conical tree, capped with new snow, is a pyramid of visible purity. Our eyes are met with the blinding sparkle of unnumbered jewels. Look! That seeming immobility was an illusion! The valley seethes with movement! Stupendous ceremony is under enactment. As far as the eye can reach, hosts of white-robed spruce, angelic choirs, march rhythmically without motion, sing divinely without sound. Strain not the eye and ear, this spectacle is “spiritually discerned!” We are guests of Nature in a Magnificent Cathedral of the Forest. The tread of the devout legions is softened
to absolute silence in the padded aisles now doubly cushioned
What mute joy fills the air! Birds flutter from limb to limb like incarnate notes of the Sacred Theme; a deer paws the snow away to nibble at the underlying mosses; a squirrel feasts on a spruce cone and sprinkles the snow with the crumbs of his repast. No part is superfluous, no part is lacking. The scene epitomizes the law of synchronized events, the eternal and unbroken procession of predestined causes and inevitable effects!
The high spirit of the occasion reigns, and no monarch is more richly endowed than we. In the generous arms of the angelic hosts we Find Humility, wherewith we clothe ourselves to enter the design of the Infinite, and become a conscious part of the inspiring miracle we behold. We find Reverence in this demonstration of the very omnipresence of Life. We find Hope and Faith among our gifts, and feel the dawn of an instinctive understanding of Life’s deep secrets. We are inundated with Beauty and joy. We are given a lesson in giving,—for this giving is not bargaining, as is often true of
In the purity of the scene, consciousness awakens to the deep meaning of the day: Day-Memorial of the dawn of grace; Day-Symbol of the innovation of Truth and Love; Day-Prognostic of the liberation of mankind from the fetters of sin, sickness and death!
Nearly two thousand years have elapsed since the Prince of Peace came to the earth with his revelations. We are only beginning to understand some of His teachings. We are coming to see that not only on one day of the year should we commemorate his birth by practicing his principles, but on every day. This one day, Christmas, was when Jesus appeared to the consciousness of man. But Christ, the Revelator of the nature of God and Man, is from “everlasting to everlasting!” “Before Abraham was, I am.” Truth can have no beginning, no ending!
Jesus of Nazareth “Came not to destroy, but to fulfill!” He brought us no new earth or heaven, but revealed to us the glories of that
And today, in the solitude of this Wilderness Cathedral, we look on as all creation sings praise to His name! “Praise Him! Praise Him! Praise Him!” Not the homage of flattery, seeking to draw forth blessings but the honest declaration of Truth. In Him, and Him only, has man found the Way out of the sorrows and problems which burden the race. This is true!
But of the Ceremony: each moment reveals new glory. The legions of marching trees sway with a gentle breeze, soft snow lightly sifting to the ground, as frozen light from Holy
Then, of a sudden, comes a great hush! The marching legions halt. The sun is overshadowed by a cloud. We stand a-tremble! Is it the cold, or the sheer, spiritual magnitude of our conception? What of this hush—is it the end? Have we seen all we may?
Nay! it is but a pause to accentuate the supreme climax! The sun suddenly bursts from behind the cloud, its glory magnified a thousand fold. It floods the landscape with heavenly glow. The massive choirs are again in motion, now shaking the skies with the power of their song. They are retiring! The invisible walls of the forest echo the thunder of their anthem: “Glory! Glory! Glory! be to the Son of the Living God!” They troop over the hillside, they march through crevasses in the ancient shorelines, singing ever of the Glory of God, and the goodness of His Son. The sun dips below the horizon, and twilight obscures the last acts of the sacred rites. The vaulted dome
of the Cathedral lights with the first stars of evening. Darkness comes on, and all Nature bends head in long, silent prayer!
Thoughts of worldly origin gradually occupy our minds. We half doubt that we have really seen the Christmas spectacle of Surprise Valley. And yet—God now seems a little nearer, His creatures now a little dearer, and deep in our hearts we shall always know the Vision is true!
Long of evening, cold of day, month of flickering fireplaces and pensive meditations—wavering betwixt memories and plans. Lakes locked in rigid sleep, forest cloaked in white mantel, wild creatures facing their sternest days, yet, beneath the gripping cold is promised all the joy to come! Sap is poised for its springtime journey, while deep in the frozen ground the arbutus and the trillium are primping for their early debut. January—in thy frosty hands is held the seedling of the year.
Winter attenuates in February; it becomes translucent, yea, even transparent. Spring lies behind the thinnest of veils. Even the zero blasts come in new, warm lustre. Venturesome birds, prophetic scouts of migratory hordes, slip silently into the scene. A new brilliance adorns the sun’s rays, and, whatever the temperature, the snows melt at its touch. The fireside still holds the body, but the thoughts reach afar. Now plans may become preparations. The last whisp of winter is February, natal month of the great; frosty of breath, yet warm of promise. Thenceforth, though storm and chill linger on, all is a part of spring!
THE MOODS OF MARCH
THE MOODS OF MARCH
March is a dispositional heterogeneity. It is like unto a cherished old Grandsire, a “Grumpy,” beloved for all his idiosyncracies. It caresses one day, and chastises the next. It coaxes the tulip through the thawing earth with the smile of spring, and then chills it with left-over winter winds. It entices the sap to the end of the twig, then grips it with snow and sleet. It opens a day with the blue skies of June, and in a twinkling coats them with charging clouds of gray. Its breezes are fitful and deceptive, sometimes playing about the barren branches and the leafy pines with the lazy drone of summer; sometimes raging destructively through the forest in cyclonic revelry.
But we will not be deceived! We know beneath its pretense of erraticalness, March is a dear old Soul, a Friend to all the year. We know in the legacy of his melting snows and torrential rains is life and growth. Let him rant and rave, we will see his beauty and laugh
EXHAUSTING THE NORTH
EXHAUSTING THE NORTH
It is often difficult for a thoroughly urbanized person to understand how a nature lover can return to the same lakes and woods year after year without being surfeited or bored. The quest for variety has become a mania for those living in environs where the only interest is the artificial stimulus created by restlessness. That the same trees, the same waters, the same moon should continually stir new ecstasy is inconceivable to such. Yet, those who have turned to the Sanctuary of Nature for some decades, find at the culmination of these years that every element of the great woods has been enhanced constantly in beauty and importance.
If it is variety that the human mind craves, Nature is in this a specialist! So precious is newness and individuality in the scheme of Creation that not an object or a moment is ever duplicated. In all the flakes of snow no two have been found alike, there are no duplicates among the leaves of the trees, or the numberless
As with things, so with time. No moment is ever repeated. The earth never twice occupies the same point in infinite space, stars do not stand through even a fraction of a second in the same relationship to each other. All objects in the universe alter with each instant, never to return to any one station of their unending evolution. There is no stagnation in Nature!
The Prophet could find “nothing new under the sun,” nor can we! The unending appeal of the wildwood springs from its interesting development and man’s ever-broadening view.
Though the song of the wood thrush has rung forth clear as a bell countless times, it comes again with renewed sweetness, reaching thought with deeper meaning than ever before. The moon, parading through its phases during eons of time, has but gathered glory in the march, and looks on each night with fresh-born beauty. Far-flung forest, majestic mountains, rolling hills, singing streams, all the creatures that inhabit them are adorned by the touch of time, ever the same, yet ever different.
This always will be the experience of the Northwoods lover, though he continue his visits without end! Not until he tires of the life-giving sunshine will he tire of the north.
Grant me love, O Love Itself! I would not triumph over fellow men and bend them to my will by cleverness, cunning, or power. I would not stride through life the conqueror—I ask not this crushing strength. Let me love my fellow men and feel their love for me. Let me love each flower and tree, and the shy creatures which wander the forest halls. Let me love each hill
and vale, each stream and lake and the far flung sea. Let me love the sun and moon, the stars which measure the infinite, and the clouds which float across their view. Grant me love, O Love Itself, that I may have more of Thee!
Grant me friendship, O Friend of All! Let me live well with my kind. Teach me not to ask for too much, Thou who givest all, let me grant freedom to my friend. Let me serve him when he stands in need, but never to put him in bonds, not even with the golden threads of love. Give me the friend, O Friend of all, who abideth my silent moments, and asks the same of me. Give me the friend who without sacrifice
Grant me wisdom, Thou who knowest all, wisdom to guide my ways. I do not yearn for the sparkle of wealth, nor fame, nor just to be wise after men—but I long to know how best I may serve, and use the talents Thou hast entrusted to me. Teach me to know when my neighbor needeth that which I have to give. Teach me the kind but strengthening words to say to the sorrowful soul, and the cheerful greeting and honest smile which send the stranger along his way with rising hope and faith. Grant me wisdom, Thou who knowest all, to understand Thy creatures, and to make their lives less burdensome. Teach me the secrets of the trees, the flowers, and tiny moss. Grant me the wisdom, O God, to know that Thou alone are wise, and that all intelligence which I may have is but Thee expressed in me!
O Thou, who abideth the unhurried march of the stars; O Thou, who watcheth calmly the growth of the seed; O Thou, who in peace
And now, O God of all, pray read my heart, for I doubt that I can express that which I feel. Thou art One! Thou art All! Thou seekest for naught, for everything is Thine and in Thee! No other gods doest Thou seek, for none doest Thou need; Thou standest alone, complete, sufficient, supreme! O God, Thou knowest I love my friend, my neighbor, the stranger and the world—never would I part with these. No gift of strength do I ask which would endanger this sacred intimacy. But, Father of all, I am Thy Son! I want to be like Thee! Teach me, Oh teach me, to stand alone!—Alone, Dear God, like Thee!