Parthagica Directory 03
And so the mood of evening is the larger and the wiser mood, because we must think less of ourselves and more of God. In the dawn it seems to us that we have our part to play, and that nothing, not even God, can prevent us from exercising our will upon the life about us; but in the evening we begin to wonder how much, after all, we have the strength to effect; we see that even our desires and impulses have their roots far back in a past which no restlessness of design or energy can touch; till we end by thankfulness that we have been allowed to feel and to experience the current of life at all. I sat the other day by the bedside of an old and gracious lady, the widow of a great artist, whose works with all their shapely form and dusky flashes of rich colour hung on the walls of her room. She had lived for many years in the forefront of a great fellowship of art and endeavour; she had seen and known intimately all the greatest figures in the art and literature of the last generation; and she was awaiting with perfect serenity and dignity the close. She said to me with a deep emotion, "Ah, the only thing that I desire is that I may continue to FEEL--that brings suffering in abundance with it, but while we suffer we are at least alive. Once or twice in my life I have felt the numbness of anguish, when a blow had fallen, and I could not even suffer. That is the only thing which I dread--not death, nor silence, but only the obliteration of feeling and love." That was a wonderful saying, full of life and energy. She did not wish to recall the old days, nor hanker after them with an unsatisfied pain; and I saw that an immortal spirit dwelt in that frail body, like a bird in an outworn cage.
In the Circumcision and Purification chapel--for both these events seem contemplated in the one that follows--there are doves, but there is neither dog nor knife. Still Simeon, who has the infant Saviour in his arms, is looking at him in a way which can only mean that, knife or no knife, the matter is not going to end here. At Varallo they have now got a dreadful knife for the Circumcision chapel. They had none last winter. What they have now got would do very well to kill a bullock with, but could not be used professionally with safety for any animal smaller than a rhinoceros. I imagine that some one was sent to Novara to buy a knife, and that, thinking it was for the Massacre of the Innocents chapel, he got the biggest he could see. Then when he brought it back people said "chow" several times, and put it upon the table and went away.