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

Excerpted Inspirations #35

[Continued from the previous two weeks. Sylvia confides in her sister Judith that their bereaved father has taken up spiritualism under the influence of their eccentric cousin, Parnelia.]

"'A bruised reed will He not break, and a dimly burning wick will He not quench.' -Isaiah


"Sylvia looked after the retreating figure and turned to Judith as if there had been no interruption. ' ... and you can see for yourself how little use I am to him now. Since he got Cousin Parnelia into the house, there's nothing anybody else can do for him. Even you couldn't, if you could leave Lawrence. Not for a while anyhow. I suppose he'll come slowly out of it to be himself again ... but I'm not sure that he will. And for now, I actually believe that he'd be easier in his mind if we were both away. I never breathe a word of criticism about planchette, of course. But he knows. There's that much left of his old self. He knows how I must feel. He's really ever so much better too, you know. He's taken up his classes in the Summer School again. He said he had "a message" from Mother that he was to go back to his work bravely; and the very next day he went over to the campus and taught all his classes as though nothing had happened. Isn't it awfully, terribly touching to see how even such a poor, make-believe of a "message" from Mother has more power to calm him than anything we could do with our whole hearts? But how can he? I can't understand it! I can't bear it, to come in on him and Cousin Parnelia, in their evenings, and see them bent over that grotesque planchette and have him look up at me so defiantly, as though he were just setting his teeth and saying he wouldn't care what I thought of him. He doesn't really care either. He doesn't think of anything but having evening come when he can get another "message" from Mother ... from Mother! Mother!'"

-Dorothy Canfield, The Bent Twig (1915) pp. 457, 461-462

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