That Divinity is Love, and that from love spring hope and trust, one might carry in mind at all times in one's daily round, I feel. I once met a man who had achieved a great measure of success in this.
Many years ago, in my job as clerk of works on building sites, I not infrequently encountered the "outside manager" for a firm of contractors. My attention was first drawn to him by the thoroughness with which the work for which he was overall responsible was carried out. Also I observed an unusual relationship of goodwill between the workers and himself. They could be trusted to do a good job on every occasion. From this, there developed in me a real interest in the man himself. I wanted to get to know him and, at a convenient moment, told him so. Here is his story, imprinted in my memory so that I relate it almost verbatim:
While I was in my middle teens both my parents died within a few months of each other. We were poorish people, and I was faced with earning my own living. But my applications for jobs were always fruitless, and I got into very low spirits. I was living with my aunt, my mother's eldest sister, who was very kind to me. One day she said to me: "Your job failures occur because your looks and your general demeanor speak louder than your words. You are living in your grief for what is now past."
"What should I do, then, to change?" I asked.
"As you walk along the streets," she replied, "look into the faces of the people you pass. Whenever you see your worried and despondent self mirrored in any passerby, send a thought of compassion, of hope and courage, towards that one, out of your own fellow-feeling."
Recently when traveling by train I found myself sitting opposite a fellow passenger at one end of an almost empty compartment. He bore the obvious signs of a typical businessman: a couple of newspapers, a briefcase to which he referred now and again but at last laid down, and he opened a conversation with me. His talk was all of himself, of his ability, and consequent success as salesman for a well-known company. Meanwhile I smiled, nodded, and made encouraging sounds. Inwardly, my personal self was making up its mind to escape at the first stop to another part of the train. Then something else stirred in me, bringing a compassionate realization of the emptiness of the soul of this man. I just had to stay and await events.
The next stop came and went, when I was suddenly aware of a change in him. His flow of talk stopped abruptly. He sat back in his seat and cupped his face in his hands. "I've a feeling as if you are seeing right through me," he said slowly. "I've just been trying to put myself across to you, just as I do with my customers, my friends at home, and even with my wife, God help me. Started about a year ago -- Doctor put me on these pills, but it's getting worse instead of better.
"Look here," he said, reaching into an inner pocket and drawing out a flat package -- "sedatives," he told me. "When I'm about to call on a buyer and I feel my heart pounding because I'm so unsure of myself, I swallow a few of these tablets to get me through the ordeal." Pausing for a moment, he went on: "I don't know why I'm telling you all this, but I'm not really sorry to have done so. You're a total stranger, and we'll probably never meet again. This has come on me only in the last couple of years. I've always been nervous and afraid to acknowledge I'm getting old and losing my grip."
Still self-engrossed. What about widening his horizons, I thought: "You mistrust yourself, you tell me. Is there anyone whom you do trust?"
He looked rather startled. "There's my wife, of course. She's very practical -- but also she would think of me before herself. She'd probably insist that I give up this job I'm in, for a start -- something I've never really considered for a moment." Once more he looked startled, and it was a moment or two before he spoke again.
"Do you know," he said, looking almost like someone awakened from a dream, "I really think I've got it; and it's really been so obvious all the time. I've only got to talk the matter out with our General Manager and ask him to transfer me to a job in the Main Office, and I'm almost certain he'd do it. He's not a bad chap, and I've put in almost thirty years of good service to the Company." He rubbed his hands together in a self-satisfied way, then held a hand out to me. "Thanks for finding the answer for me. Are you one of these psychologist fellows, by any chance?"
"No," I replied, "I'm just one of those chaps who find other people very interesting to listen to."
The train was slowing down for my station. We shook hands and parted.
The heavy lorry drew up at the pedestrian crossing; a few people crossed the road. The lorry did not move. The driver, it seemed, was waiting for someone else to cross. It was a lady pushing an invalid chair in which sat a girl of about ten years of age. As they began to cross, the lorry driver leaned out of his cab and waved his hand towards the little girl. She had glanced listlessly at the great bulk of the lorry, and the man leaning out above her. Then she became aware of his greeting; her eyes widened with surprise and pleasure; her pale, peaked face broadened into a delighted smile. The driver, no less delighted at the success of his gesture, now leaned his body halfway out of the cab, waving his arm, his face aglow with benevolence.
Thus, for the space of a few seconds, these two were at one. The little girl, rescued for the moment from her little pit of discomfort and loneliness, moved, queenlike, across the way, giving the man her gratitude for his compassion -- and was gone. The lorry, too, went on its way.
No doubt the incident might fade from the minds of both man and girl within a few minutes. To the observer, however, it came as a revelation of that hidden, unifying higher self which underlies, in us all, the outer man of separateness.
The Egyptians believed that Osiris, the Sun-god, had to become shattered into fragments when entering into the manifested world; and that each individual human being, in his innermost reality, represents one of these divine fragments -- his own inner sun. The little incident shone, for me, in just such a light.