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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Evolution
By Friedrich Fröbel (1782–1852)
 
From ‘The Mottoes and Commentaries of Friedrich Froebel’s Mother Play’: Translation of Susan Elizabeth Blow

WHAT shall we learn from our yearning look into the heart of the flower and the eye of the child? This truth: Whatever develops, be it into flower or tree or man, is from the beginning implicitly that which it has the power to become. The possibility of perfect manhood is what you read in your child’s eye, just as the perfect flower is prophesied in the bud, or the giant oak in the tiny acorn. A presentiment that the ideal or generic human being slumbers, dreams, stirs in your unconscious infant—this it is, O mother, which transfigures you as you gaze upon him. Strive to define to yourself what is that generic ideal which is wrapped up in your child. Surely, as your child—or in other words, as child of man—he is destined to live in the past and future as well as in the present. His earthly being implies a past heaven; his birth makes a present heaven; in his soul he holds a future heaven. This threefold heaven, which you also bear within you, shines out on you through your child’s eyes.  1
  The beast lives only in the present. Of past and future he knows naught. But to man belong not only the present, but also the future and the past. His thought pierces the heaven of the future, and hope is born. He learns that all human life is one life; that all human joys and sorrows are his joys and sorrows, and through participation enters the present heaven—the heaven of love. He turns his mind towards the past, and out of retrospection wrests a vigorous faith. What soul could fail to conquer an invincible trust in the pure, the good, the holy, the ideally human, the truly Divine, if it would look with single eye into its own past, into the past of history? Could there be a man in whose soul such a contemplation of the past would fail to blossom into devout insight, into self-conscious and self-comprehending faith? Must not such a retrospect unveil the truth? Must not the beauty of the unveiled truth allure him to Divine doing, Divine living? All that is high and holy in human life meets in that faith which is born of the unveiling of a heaven that has always been; in that hope born of a vision of the heaven that shall be; in that love which creates a heaven in the eternal Now. These three heavens shine out upon you through your child’s eye. The presentiment that he carries these three heavens within him transfigures your countenance as you gaze upon him. Cherish this premonition, for thereby you will help him to make his life a musical chord wherein are blended the three notes of faith, hope, and love. These celestial virtues will link his life with the Divine life through which all life is one—with the God who is the supernal fountain of life, light, and love….  2
  Higher and more important than the cultivation of man’s outer ear, is the culture of that inner sense of harmony whereby the soul learns to perceive sweet accord in soundless things, and to discern within itself harmonies and discords. The importance of wakening the inner ear to this music of the soul can scarcely be exaggerated. Learning to hear it within, the child will strive to give it outer form and expression; and even if in such effort he is only partially successful, he will gain thereby the power to appreciate the more successful effort of others. Thus enriching his own life by the life of others, he solves the problem of development. How else were it possible within the quickly fleeting hours of mortal life to develop our being in all directions, to fathom its depths, scale its heights, measure its boundaries? What we are, what we would be, we must learn to recognize in the mirror of all other lives. By the effort of each, and the recognition of all, the Divine man is revealed in humanity….  3
  Against the bright light which shines on the smooth white wall is thrust a dark object, and straightway appears the form which so delights the child. This is the outward fact; what is the truth which through this fact is dimly hinted to the prophetic mind? Is it not the creative and transforming power of light, that power which brings form and color out of chaos, and makes the beauty which gladdens our hearts? Is it not more than this,—a foreshadowing, perhaps, of the spiritual fact that our darkest experiences may project themselves in forms that will delight and bless, if in our hearts shines the light of God? The sternest crags, the most forbidding chasms, are beautiful in the mellow sunshine; while the fairest landscape loses all charm, and indeed ceases to be, when the light which created it is withdrawn. Is it not thus also with our lives? Yesterday, touched by the light of enthusiastic emotion, all our relationships seemed beautiful and blessed; to-day, when the glow of enthusiasm has faded, they oppress and repulse us. Only the conviction that it is the darkness within us which makes the darkness without, can restore the lost peace of our souls. Be it therefore, O mother, your sacred duty to make your darling early feel the working both of the outer and inner light. Let him see in one the symbol of the other, and tracing light and color to their source in the sun, may he learn to trace the beauty and meaning of his life to their source in God.  4
 
 
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