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A Sealed Spirit
by [?]

It was a very strange experience to walk thus with a fellow-creature suffering from these sad limitations, and yet to be conscious of being in the presence of so perfectly contented and cheerful a spirit. Before we parted, he wrote on his pad that he was working hard. “I am trying to write a little book; of course I know that I can never see it, but I should like to tell people that it is possible to live a life like mine, and to be full of happiness; that God sends me abundance of joy, so that I can say with truth that I am happier now than ever I was in the old days. Such peace and joy, with so many to love me; so little that I can do for others, except to speak of the marvellous goodness of God, and of the beautiful thoughts he gives me.” “Yes, he has written some chapters,” said the faithful wife; “but he does not want any one to see them till they are done.”

I shall never forget the sight of the two as we went away: he stood, smiling and waving his hand, under an apple-tree in full bloom, with the sun shining on the flowers. It gave me the sense of a pure and simple content such as I have rarely experienced. The beauty and strength of the picture have dwelt with me ever since, showing me that a soul can be thus shut up in what would seem to be so dark a prison, with the windows, through which most of us look upon the world, closed and shuttered; and yet not only not losing the joy of life, but seeming to taste it in fullest measure. If one could but accept thus one’s own limitations, viewing them not as sources of pleasure closed, but as opening the door more wide to what remains; the very simplicity and rarity of the perceptions that are left, gaining in depth and quality from their isolation. But beyond all this lies that well-spring of inner joy, which seems to be withheld from so many of us. Is it indeed withheld? Is it conferred upon this poor soul simply as a tender compensation? Can we not by quiet passivity, rather than by resolute effort, learn the secret of it? I believe myself that the source is there in many hearts, but that we visit it too rarely, and forget it in the multitude of little cares and businesses, which seem so important, so absorbing. It is like a hidden treasure, which we go so far abroad to seek, and for which we endure much weariness of wandering; while all the while it is buried in our own garden-ground; we have paced to and fro above it many times, never dreaming that the bright thing lay beneath our feet, and within reach of our forgetful hand.