I know one who, asked by a friend desiring more intimate knowledge as to what influences had shaped her inward life, answered at once, with that sudden vision of insight which reveals more than the vision of thought, 'The Wind, Silence, and Love.'
The answer was characteristic, for, with her who made it, the influences that shape have always seemed more significant than the things that are shapen. None can know for another the mysteries of spiritual companionship. What is an abstraction to one is a reality to another: what to one has the proved familiar face, to another is illusion.
I can well understand the one of whom I write. With most of us the shaping influences are the common sweet influences of motherhood and fatherhood, the airs of home, the place and manner of childhood. But these are not for all, and may be adverse, and in some degree absent. Even when a child is fortunate in love and home, it may be spiritually alien from these: it may dimly discern love rather as a mystery dwelling in sunlight and moonlight, or in the light that lies on quiet meadows, woods, quiet shores: may find a more initmate sound of home in the wind whispering in the grass, or when a sighing travels through the wilderness of leaves, or when an unseen wave moans in the pine.
When we consider, could any influences be deeper than these three elemental powers, for ever young, yet older than age, beautiful immortalities that whisper continuously against our mortal ear. The Wind, Silence, and Love: yes, I think of them as comrades, nobly ministrant, priests of the hidden way.
To go into the solitary places, or among trees which await dusk and storm, or by a dark shore: to be a nerve there,to listen to, inwardly to hear, to be at one with, to be as a grass filled with, or as reeds shaken by, as a wave lifted before, the wind: this is to know what cannot otherwise be known; to hear the intimate, dread voice; to listen to what long ago went away, and to what now is going and coming, coming and going, and to what august airs of sorrow prevail in that dim empire of shadow where the falling leaf rests unfallen, where Sound, of all else forgotten and forgetting, live in the pale hyacinth, the moonwhite pansy, and the cloudy amaranth that gathers dew.
And, in the wood: by the grey stone on the hill; where the heron waits; where the plover wails; on the pillow; in the room filled with flame-warmed twilight; is there any comrade that is as Silence is? Can she not whisper the white secrecies which words discolour? Can she not say, when we would forget, forget; when we would remember, remember? Is it not she also who says, Come unto me all ye who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest? Is it not she who has a lute into which all loveliness of sound has passed, so that when she breathes upon it life is audible? Is it not she who will close many doors, and shut away cries and tumults, and will lead you to a green garden and a fountain in it, and say, 'This is your heart, and that is your soul: listen.'
The third one, is he a Spirit, alone, uncompanioned? I think sometimes that these three are one, and that Silence is his inward voice and the Wind the sound of his unwearying feet. Does he not come in wind, whether his footfall be on the wild rose, or on the bitter wave, or in the tempest shaken with noises and rains that are cries and tears, sighs, prayers and tears?
He has many ways, many hopes, many faces. He bends above those who meet in twilight, above the cradle, above dwellers by the hearth, above the sorrowful, above the joyous children of the sun, above the grave. Must he not be divine, who is worshipped of all men? Does not the wild-dove take the rainbow upon its breast because of him, and the salmon leave the sea for inland pools, and the creeping thing become winged and radiant?
The Wind, Silence, and Love: if one cannot learn of these, is there any comradeship that can tell us more, that can more comfort us, that can so inhabit with living light what is waste and barren?
And, in the hidden hour, one will stoop, and kiss us on the brow, when our sudden stillness will, for others, already be memory. An another will be as an open road, with morning breaking. And the third will meet us, with a light of joy in his eyes; but we shall not see him at first because of the sun-blaze, or hear his words because in that summer air the birds will be multitude.
Meanwhile, they are near and intimate. Their life uplifts us. We cannot forget wholly, nor cease to dream, nor be left unhoping, nor be without rest, nor go darkly without torches and songs, if these accompany us; or we them, for they go one way.