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Until The Evening
by [?]

I stop sometimes on a landing in an old house, where I often stay, to look at a dusky, faded water-colour that hangs upon the wall. I do not think its technical merit is great, but it somehow has the poetical quality. It represents, or seems to represent, a piece of high open ground, down-land or heath, with a few low bushes growing there, sprawling and wind-brushed; a road crosses the fore-ground, and dips over to the plain beyond, a forest tract full of dark woodland, dappled by open spaces. There is a long faint distant line of hills on the horizon. The time appears to be just after sunset, when the sky is still full of a pale liquid light, before objects have lost their colour, but are just beginning to be tinged with dusk. In the road stands the figure of a man, with his back turned, his hand shading his eyes as he gazes out across the plain. He appears to be a wayfarer, and to be weary but not dispirited. There is a look of serene and sober content about him, how communicated I know not. He would seem to have far to go, but yet to be certainly drawing nearer to his home, which indeed he seems to discern afar off. The picture bears the simple legend, Until the evening.

This design seems always to be charged for me with a beautiful and grave meaning. Just so would I draw near to the end of my pilgrimage, wearied but tranquil, assured of rest and welcome. The freshness and blithe eagerness of the morning are over, the solid hours of sturdy progress are gone, the heat of the day is past, and only the gentle descent among the shadows remains, with cool airs blowing from darkling thickets, laden with woodland scents, and the rich fragrance of rushy dingles. Ere the night falls the wayfarer will push the familiar gate open, and see the lamplit windows of home, with the dark chimneys and gables outlined against the green sky. Those that love him are awaiting him, listening for the footfall to draw near.

Is it not possible to attain this? And yet how often does it seem to be the fate of a human soul to stumble, like one chased and hunted, with dazed and terrified air, and hurried piteous phrase, down the darkening track. Yet one should rather approach God, bearing in careful hands the priceless and precious gift of life, ready to restore it if it be his will. God grant us so to live, in courage and trust, that, when he calls us, we may pass willingly and with a quiet confidence to the gate that opens into tracts unknown!