I am up early with my girls today. One wakens with the after-affects of a bloody nose spread across her skin, the other wakens with a belly full of giggles. We bathe, share bananas, and I brew a cup of coffee – a real treat, something I don’t usually get to consume.
The sunrise is lazy this morning, producing no grand burst of color; the beams merely stretch rosily across the field, the orb itself hidden behind our line of drought-stricken trees. Atop our dining table, feet on benches, Arienh tucks under my armpit to work on an apple while Grace wriggles on my lap. I am surprised to find the sun has dipped so far south.
In embracing these quiet moments as a chance to take in soul-truth, I am also surprised to read words written over a hundred years ago that speak still so poignantly of our life and world–and my own heart–today.
I am again reading Ellen White’s Education, written in 1903. In this passage she is speaking of the human lot at the first advent of Jesus, and I am entranced by the concepts that yet seem so modern: human dignity, human rights, individuality, humanity.
“As they ceased to recognize the Divine, they ceased to regard the human. Truth, honor, integrity, confidence, compassion, were departing from the earth. Relentless greed and absorbing ambition gave birth to universal distrust. The idea of duty, of the obligation of strength to weakness, of human dignity and human rights, was cast aside as a dream or a fable. The common people were regarded as beasts of burden or as the tools and the steppingstones for ambition. Wealth and power, ease and self-inulgence, were sought as the highest good. Physical degeneracy, mental stupor, spiritual death, characterized the age.
“As the evil passions and purposes of men banished God from their thoughts, so forgetfulness of Him inclined them more strongly to evil. Their heart in love with sin clothed Him with its own attributes, and this conception strengthened the power of sin. Bent on self-pleasing, men came to regard God as such a one as themselves–a Being whose aim was self glory, whose requirements were suited to His own pleasure.”
I continue reading, transfixed by sentences like these:
“Christ came to the world with the accumulated love of eternity.”
“Fidelity to God involves fidelity to man. Thus the law [of God] guards the rights, the individuality, of every human being.”
“He who seeks to transform humanity must himself understand humanity. Only through sympathy, faith and love can men be reached and uplifted. Here Christ stands revealed as the master teacher; of all that ever dwelt on the earth, He alone has perfect understanding of the human soul.”
“‘We have not a hight priest’–master teacher, for the priests were teachers–‘we have not a high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infinities; but One that hath been in all points tempted like as we are.'”
“Christ alone had experience in all the sorrows and temptations that befall human beings. Never another of woman born was so fiercely beset by temptation; never another bore so heavy a burden of the world’s sin and pain. Never was there another whose sympathies were so broad or so tender. A sharer in all the experiences of humanity, He could feel not only for, but with, every burdened and tempted and struggling one.”
“In every human being He discerned infinite possibilities. He saw men as they might be, transfigured by His grace–in ‘the beauty of the Lord our God.'”
“Looking upon them with hope, He inspired hope. Meeting them with confidence, He inspired trust. Revealing in Himself man’s true ideal, He awakened, for its attainment, both desire and faith.”
“To Him nothing was without purpose.”
“What He taught, He lived.”