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  • Writer's pictureLinda Odhner, with photos by Liz Kufs

Excerpted Inspirations #34

Updated: Jul 15, 2022

[Continued from last week. Sylvia ponders how to help her bereaved father.]

"But now, now, she must think of nothing but her father. There was no one else who could help her father. Could she? Could anyone?

"She herself, since her prayer among the roses, cherished in her darkened heart a hope of dawn. But how could she tell her father of that? Even if she had been able to force him to listen to her, she had nothing that words could say, nothing but the recollection of that burning hour in the garden to set against the teachings of a lifetime. That had changed life for her ... but what could it mean to her father? How could she tell him of what was only a wordless radiance? Her father had taught her that death meant the return of the spirit to the great, impersonal river of life. If the spirit had been superb and splendid, like her mother's, the river of life was the brighter for it, but that was all. Her mother had lived, and now lived no more. That was what they had tried to teach her. That was what her father had taught her -- without, it now appeared, believing it himself.

"And yet she divined that it was not that he would not, but that he could not now believe it. He was like a man set in a vacuum fighting for the air without which life is impossible. And she knew no way to break the imprisoning wall and let in air for him. Was there, indeed, any air outside? There must be, or the race could not live from one generation to the next. Everyone whose love had encountered death must have found an air to breathe or have died.

"Constantly through all these thoughts, that day and for many days and months to come, there rang the sound of her mother's name, screamed aloud. She heard it as though she were again standing by her father under the stars. And there had been no answer."

-Dorothy Canfield, The Bent Twig (1915), pp. 445-446

[To be concluded next week]

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