In the Garden of Eden, the fruit on all of the trees was pleasing to the eye, including the fruit on the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Distinguishing between what was good and what was evil could be discerned only by learning from God, the Master and Creator. What was good could be enjoyed by seeing creation through the Master’s eyes.
What is it that makes things “good” or “evil?” If good is measured only by our own personal pleasure, then why are good things ever done for others? If evil is measured only by the harm that we suffer ourselves, then why do we protect others? Both are mysteries, but neither has to be.
The truth is that good is a value which transcends our simple existence, and the same is true of evil. Distinguishing between the two is difficult to understand until we have learned the values which drive the distinction. We learn those values from a teacher. The best teacher is a master of the subject. We are able to act boldly when we have learned from the master, knowing that the mysteries are resolved and our goals are good.
Washington Gladden lived in the United States during the 19th century. He saw the bitterness of the Civil War. He saw the tension between workers and the industrialists who employed them. Through it all he had a keen ability to recognize and articulate the distinction between right and wrong; the difference between good and evil. He spoke openly against slavery and segregation. He advocated powerfully for workers when they were abused by unscrupulous task masters. Most of all, though, he stood for putting Christian love into action, guided all the while by seeing creation through scripture and the eyes of the Master.
Gladden was a prolific writer, authoring several books and a number of hymns. Perhaps his best known hymn is O Master, Let Me Walk with Thee. In its verses we see part of Gladden’s vision of Christian servanthood, accompanied always by the Master and guided by Him.
O Master, let me walk with thee
in lowly paths of service free;
tell me thy secret; help me bear
the strain of toil, the fret of care.
The mysteries of life, the difference between good and evil, are all resolved in walking the path with the Master. Won’t you walk with the Master on your journey?
Follow the Path!
[Use with The Mysterious and Beguiling Creature, day 8 of A Labyrinth Pilgrimage]