The economic conditions which have necessitated the release of certain of our workers have increased the duties of others, making it more difficult than ever for them to find adequate time for reading and meditation. Even among us as workers there are many who are caught in the treadmill of never-ending work.
But is there not danger that we, like Martha of old, shall busy ourselves with much serving, and find scant time to sit at the Master's feet? When we suggest the Ministerial Reading Course volumes to such, they sometimes give a hopeless sigh, tell us they cannot change or neglect their work, and declare they dare not shorten their hours of sleep, lest they reduce their bodily strength and working efficiency—the trolley or bus is at the foot of the street, and the time clock is at the head of the elevator.
But right there, or here, is the place of achievement or failure. A brief fifteen minutes in the morning, those extra twenty minutes at noon, that half hour in the evening—odd moments that are never accounted for—can we not use them to ascend the mount, to catch a new vision from the holy hill of God? There "in deep contrition," He helps our "unbelief." The available time is short, of course, but through the hours afterward we can cast many a swift glance to the hills, from whence cometh our help. These bits of time spent with Holy Writ and with the writings of sound thinkers—ancient, medieval, or modern—are just what we need in the rush and bustle of everyday life. Modern psychology gives new names, and new explanations, but there is none more ancient or more modern than the assurance of God's word, that "they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength."
One of the distinct benefits springing from these difficult times is increased interest in books. In ordinary times tens of thousands of people think they have no time for reading. Many of these selfsame people have reaped large profits from books during this period of widespread unemployment. Everywhere public libraries report an increase of readers, and in thousands of homes books that have reposed unmolested on library shelves for years are now being read, marked, and in some measure inwardly digested.
The value of this may be beyond computation —if the literature is worthwhile. The influence of a single book, or even of a single chapter, may be so forceful and lasting as to change the current of a life. History is replete with examples of men and women who have acknowledged such indebtedness. John Masefield, poet laureate of England, is an outstanding present-day example. While working as a porter in New York, he chanced to read Chaucer's "Parliament of Fowls" one Sunday, and found in it the spark that fired his own genius.
In these days of restricted income and reduced budgets, many workers have of necessity felt the pinch. But that is no reason why they should join that class whose mental vision is now focused on the dark side of things to such an extent that they apparently find it difficult to see any bright side to anything. It is well to face facts, and to deal with darkness for what it is. But it is wrong to wear dark glasses which blind one to existing and available light.
While many of our workers never faced more grave and perplexing personal problems than those with which they are confronted today, yet no one is going to be helped by despairing utterances. It is not only possible, but proper and expedient to think of these difficult times as not being contractive but expansive, as not producing dreariness but joy, not bringing slow death to our faculties and capacities, but a surging new life. Why not use this respite to prepare for that time when the steady grind of the daily round with its constant program will again allot to every hour its appointed task?
South Bend, Ind.