Writings by those gifted with portraying the life of the spirit, sometimes border on poetry. Their work draws us in and enriches our perceptions – our understanding – our inner selves – our sense of satisfaction that we are part of a grand design. We belong.
Rufus M. Jones, the eminent Quaker academic, philosopher, activist, was one such writer.
As I prepare this blog post early in March, 2021, on the cusp of springtime, the celebration of Life renewed by Easter – Life Eternal is especially meaningful after so many confrontations of death during the past difficult year. The excerpts given here from one of Jones’ numerous books were written while WWI was raging, and countless tragedies unfolding in personal lives.
These thoughts sing with hope, joy, and promise. Life is ultimately confirmed and victorious.
There is one thing which fills me with profound wonder … and that is the reawakening of the world in springtime. It seems some of these mornings almost as though we might hear the sons of God once more shouting for joy as they behold the new miracle of re-creation going on. … I am not surprised that men in all ages have taken this rebirth of the world in spring as a parable of a deeper rebirth. … That Power that guides the unfolding of the acorn and pushes up the oak, that Mind that brings the gorgeous butterfly out of the dull cocoon and raises it to its new and winged career, may well know how to “swallow up mortality with life” (II Corinthians 5:4) and bring us and ours to a higher stage of being. This new and greater miracle of another life beyond does not stagger us much after we have fully entered into the wonder of the spring. It is no more difficult to carry a soul safely over the bridge of death into the light and joy of a new world than it is to make a spring dandelion out of one of those strange winged seeds which a child carelessly blew away last summer.
As far as we are able to discover, the soul possesses infinite capacity. A blossom may reach its perfection in a day, but no one has fathomed the possibilities of a human heart. Eternity is not too vast for a soul to grow in, if the soul wills to grow.
“If a man die, shall he live again?” Our heart as well as our head seeks an answer. Knowing that such a hope is reasonable is not enough; we wish to feel that it is true. Here again God meets us, not only with an outward promise, or through the voices of nature, but with an inward conviction born of acquaintance with himself. We hear the answer when we first find him, but it grows as we learn to know him better. … “Learn of me,” said the Master (Jesus), “and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” (Matthew 11:29).
Yes, in this experience we even cease questioning. We know him and we trust. On his love we rest. Why should we reckon with the grave? Our Father this side shall be our Father beyond. We are trusting him here; we can trust him there.
Rufus M. Jones, The World Within, 1918.
More about Rufus M. Jones:
For we know that even if our terrestrial home of this tent should be removed,
we possess a home, a building from God, not made by hand,
eternal in the heavens!
And indeed, we, while loaded in this tent, groan;
yet we do not wish to be stripped of it, but to be endowed,
so that this mortality may be swallowed up by that life.
But He Who enables us to work for this purpose is God,
Who gave us the pledge of the Spirit.
I Corinthians 5:1, 4-5
The New Testament in Modern English,
translated from the Greek by Ferrar Fenton, 1906