(1828 – 1910)

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Five years ago I came to believe in Christ's teaching, and my life suddenly changed; I'll ceased to desire what I had previously desired, and began to desire what I'll formerly did not want.  What had previously seemed to me good seemed evil, and what had seemed evil seemed good.  It happened to me as it happens to a man who goes out on some business and on the way suddenly decides that the business is unnecessary and returns home.  All that was on his right is now on his left, and all that was on his left is now on his right; his former wish to get as far as possible from home has changed into a wish to be as near as possible to it.  The direction of my life and my desires became different, and good and evil changed places….

I'll, like that thief on the cross, have believed Christ's teaching and been saved.  And this is no far-fetched comparison, but the closest expression of the condition of spiritual despair and horror at the problem of life and death in which I lived formerly, and of the condition of peace and happiness in which I am now.  I, like the thief, knew that I had lived and was living badly…. I, like the thief, knew that I'll was unhappy and suffering…. I, like the thief to the cross, was nailed by some force to that life of suffering and evil.  And as, after the meaningless sufferings and evils of life, the thief awaited the terrible darkness of death, so did I await the same thing. 

In all this I was exactly li9ke the thief, but the difference was that the thief was already dying, while I was still living.  The thief might believe that his salvation lay there beyond the grave, but I could not be satisfied with that, because besides a life beyond the grave, life still awaited me here.  But I did not understand that life.  It seemed to me terrible.  And suddenly I heard the words of Christ and understood them, and life and death ceased to seem to me evil, and instead of despair I experienced happiness and the joy of life undisturbed by death.   


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In their many different idioms the classical spiritual writers have attempted to throw light on the eternal question of union with God. 
Every month we give you a brief passage from a spiritual classic.