BY-WAYS -3/6/41 - The Inner Glow. Callousness of the Spirit

At this Lenten season we have special reason
To ponder God's world and endear it
To our daily living, our loving, our giving.
And bringing a glow to the spirit.

Above daily strife and the conflicts of life
There's the call of the soul; let me hear it.
Set my heart, Lord, on fire, not with "flames of desire,"
But the warm inner glow of the spirit.

Oh give me a vaster concept of the Master, -
The Way of the Cross - nor yet fear it.
Lord, give me, I pray - not just for today -
But for always that glow of the spirit.

Do you like to know how poems, hymns, etc., come to be written? I do. Some day I hope to own one of these fine books that give the story of each of the great hymns. In the meantime, I am always borrowing one, either from our church library or our splendid neighborhood library. It is interesting to note that so many of the great, the lasting, hymns are born of acute physical pain, mental anguish, blasted hopes, years of affliction. The refining fire of suffering turns out the gold, unalloyed - if the gold is there. According to the accepted standards of poetry "The Inner Glow" is not a poem; at least, it is not good poetry. It "jingles" too much. The students of poetry say that the deeper, the more emotional a subject, the less it "swings." I am honestly afraid to take a course in poetry writing - much as I long to write well - just because I am afraid it will kill all the naturalness.

Life is made up of rhythm. God set the stars and planets to move in their courses in rhythm. Our own planet never misses a "turn." The ebb and flow of the tides are in perfect "swing." Even our own bodies are rhythmic. the Great Scientist worked it all out - that we humans in the workaday world swing along for six counts, then rest a beat. Hence the Sabbath, which means "rest from labor." The heart has its own metronome; and if the pulsations of blood to the brain come in perfect rhythm, why shouldn't the emanations - the thoughts - be rhythmic, too. All this is in defense of those who want to express themselves in rhyme - set to their own special meter. Now for the story of the inspiration of the poem. We really do nothing of ourselves; and, even with God's help, we copy most of our stuff from others. Still others, by their faith, by their own nobility, open the flood-gates of wisdom for us. About a year ago Edgar A. Guest, in a transcribed radio program, said, in reply to someone's query, that the thing he wished for most in this world is an inner glow of the spirit. He went on to explain how that inner glow permeates one's whole being, and suffuses it - then radiates to other souls. I have thought a lot about that. The word "glow" connotes warmth, without the leaping flames of destruction. Human beings were made for warmth - and respond to it amazingly. How we all relax, and warm up to each other around a glowing fire in the open grate. Just as metals merge and blend in the foundry furnace, so do we mortals tend to merge and seek a unity of thought and feeling when we are in the "glow of the spirit," which - it seems to me - is nothing more nor less than the radiance of God's love.

Sometimes a warning note shakes us into the full consciousness and yearning for the thing we accepted, in a passive way, a year - or perhaps ten years - before. Jan Struther, the English writer, in her charming book, "Mrs. Miniver," warns us, in a very subtle fashion, against a certain "callousness of the spirit" after we reach the forties. That shook me up - plenty. I could see how very true it is. Through the years, instead of putting on "the whole armor of God," we allow our hearts to be exposed to a hundred stabs of disappointment, disillusion, hurt pride, a thousand pricks of vexation, and all the bruises of frustration. Nature, in her own way, forms a callous, to protect us. Before we know it we are hard. We don't suffer as much; but we don't feel; we don't live. Anything but callousness. There isn't anything that softens that outer callous of the spirit like a beautiful letter from someone who has suffered deeply, yet shows a great courage and unselfishness. Such a letter came from Mary Posterelo. I shall keep it in my memory book, to read when the "inner glow" needs reviving.

This has been a wonderful week, crowned by a letter from Dell McQuiston Harmon, who is one of my main sources of inspiration, and by a visit from Martin Lynn, of Nowrytown (who lives on the old "Bob" Woodend farm). To go back, just a moment, to Mrs. Harmon, who sent me a copy of their school magazine (at my request), it is surely gratifying to us all that our "home town girl" has, through her husband, found such a field of usefulness. Mr. A.L. Bowen, former head of the department of welfare in Illinois, praises Mr. Harmon's work in the highest terms. Please, Mr. Walker, just enough more space to tell of Mr. Lynn's visit. While in Cleveland, he was good enough to look us up. I got out the picture of my Nowrytown flock, and, beginning right to left, named them off. I pointed to a tiny mite in pigtails, and said, "I can't remember her name; but I remember her - bright as a whip, and able to talk rapidly and distinctly." Mr. Lynn said, "That's my wife." Oh, dear! Tiny Ethel Heasley grown up - like all the rest! It was a great experience - having that contact with my very first school children. Another bond with my home community. You may be sure I am all a-glow inside, from the pleasure Mr. Lynn's visit brought.

With kind remembrance,
Florence B. Taylor
South Euclid, Ohio

Next -3/20/41 - Margery Summers. Margery Almira Lytle