My Grandmother Darling didn’t go to college but when it came to learning she was no slouch. In two years of my own college education when I lived with her I’m sure she derived much vicarious pleasure in the fact that I, her only granddaughter, could have what she and her three daughters had been denied, a college education. The only son in their family had been a brilliant student, earning the honor of becoming valedictorian of his graduating high school class and about to do the same in a top-ranking college of Engineering when he was suddenly stricken in the flu epidemic of the early 1900’s and died.
Grandmother used to faithfully read her daily copy of The Christian Science Monitor from the first to the last page. “I’ve heard that one can get the equivalent of a college education by doing that over some time,” she told me, smiling sweetly. Many a time, too, she’d bring up the fact that back in her Minnesota home town she had been the president of The Browning Club. I was reminded of that today when I remembered one of Browning's poems that I love:
The year 's at the spring,
And day 's at the morn;
Morning 's at seven;
The hill-side 's dew-pearl'd;
The lark 's on the wing;
The snail 's on the thorn;
God 's in His heaven—
All 's right with the world!
Some mornings, many in fact, seem like that to me, but I looked up Robert Browning on the computer and, of course, he knew tragedy and anguish in his day too. I’m glad he wrote this poem because it helps to restore my faith that the world will be someday as bright with joy and harmony as he saw it that morning and took the time to let us see it through his eyes. It’s like a promise.
The idea, that we have not developed our spiritual senses enough to understand and appreciate a heaven at hand, (and that’s what we’re here for,) gives me hope. When a dream or nightmare gets to be intolerable we’ll wake up and find ourselves in a better world. Of course, I can't prove I’m right, but neither can anyone prove that I’m wrong. So, until the last page of my book I’ll have to wait to see who is right. In the meantime I can choose what to believe and Robert Browning’s little poem is a glimpse to me of how things ought to be on earth as in heaven.
We hear it said that some things are too good to be true, but I say bombings, terror, wars, beheadings of innocents are too bad to be true! James Foley’s parents were interviewed on TV today and they said they had not and would not watch the film of their son’s beheading. I think they know that a good man, as they knew their son to be, could never in God’s morning have been touched by such a picture. But they are eager to let this lie spur them actively on to do what they can to bring in a better day and a better world so that things like that can no longer be.
My grandmother did too. After her son died she always thought of him as going on to build bridges somewhere in the world. She didn’t live in la la land, but she did help many others see through dark dreams including one that I witnessed myself of a woman who had been paralyzed from her neck down. I went with her daily for a while when she visited the patient. Then I don’t remember seeing the woman until some time later and she was up and about with normal freedom of health and mobility. Others too there were whom Grandmother helped but I’d only hear of them incidentally. She never took credit for herself. “God did it,” she’d say. Then she’d go on reading the Monitor, the National Geographic, or her religious textbooks. She never stopped getting her own “college” education.