Down Nature's Paths






THESE words are being penned on Christmas morning, though you may be reading them in the season of the Fourth of July. They are being written early on Christmas morning, before daylight in fact. I wanted to sleep. The family had been up late. First we went caroling for a local charity; then we had a "homely" evening, parting for the night with the anticipation: "We can sleep as long as we want to in the morning—don't have to go to work."

Oh? Could we sleep? Not here in the South where Christmas means fireworks. The rockets and Roman candles were pretty to watch last night; but at 4:00 A.M.—it's another story to be jolted awake by booms and crashes in every direction, spaced far enough apart to allow one to sink back into the border of unconsciousness before the next jar.

So, perforce, I awakened and pondered. What is there about sudden loud noises that so fascinates human beings? It seems a universal instinct. The Chinese, most antiquely philosophical nation, invented fireworks, feeling that their intermittent sounds and colors honored their deities. None are too old to feel the compulsion of sound and light. Returning last night, I passed a group of boys who were placing a "whiz-devil" on the pavement, where it "scooted around" all over the street, weirdly whistling and sparkling. I joined the group, as attracted as they.

Sound, and light, and color! How utterly necessary they are to human consciousness, comprehension, and contentment! All three are the gift of God; and a love for them He planted in the human mind that He created "after His likeness." They are to us the symbols of life, which explains their hold on our minds. Their absence means death: "deathlike stillness," "the darkness of death," "as pale as death"—these are instinctive comparisons.

God Himself lives in a heaven of sound and light and color. The difference between His world and ours is chiefly in measurement and use. His sounds have only loving uses; His light never blasts; His color is never bloody. And His measurement of the power indicated by sound is somewhat in advance of ours. The louder the sound, the more stimulating and satisfactory it is to human children of all ages. And when the sound is accompanied by light and color, it becomes to us the measure of the most tremendous power achieved by man.

But who heard the sunset last night? It was one of the most colorful I ever saw. The carolers walked in awe of it, and they equally marveled at the graceful cloud-attendants of the milder-beaming full moon. But who heard sunset and moonrise? Yet their power shames A-bomb or H-bomb. And by white (which we thoughtlessly call the absence of color) God covers the scarlet of sin. The sounds of earth are mostly cries of pain, sobs of soul agony, drunken curses, or the laughter of fools. But if we listen to the silences of God, we will hear His soundless voice. Let us utter back, audibly or in­audibly, the sound for which His heart longs: "Heavenly Father, I love Thee."