From John Inglesant, by John Henry Shorthouse
A young man in the 17th century is caught between religious teachings; everyone tells him something different, everyone has an agenda. Finally he seeks out his first teacher, an old man he hasn't seen in years, and asks his opinion on what is true.
"[You should] not think this life a low and poor place in which to seek the Divine Master walking to and fro. These high matters of which you speak, and this heavenly life, is not to be disbelieved, only it seems to me—more and more—that the soul or spirit of every man in passing through life among familiar things is among supernatural things always, and many things seem to me miraculous, which men think nothing of, such as memory, by which we live again in place and time—and of which, if I remember rightly, for I am a very poor scholar, you doubtless know, St. Augustine says many pertinent things—and the love of one another, by which we are led out of ourselves, and made to act against our own nature by that of another, or, rather, by a higher nature than that of any of us; and a thousand fancies and feelings which have no adequate cause among outward things. Here, in this book which I was reading when you so kindly came to see me, are withered flowers, which I have gathered in my rambles, and keep as friends and companions of pleasant places, streams and meadows, and of some who have been with me, and now are not. There is one, this single yellow flower—it is a tormentilla, which is good against the plague—what is it, that, as I hold it, makes me think of it as I do? Faded flowers have something, to me, miraculous and supernatural about them; though, in fact, it is nothing wonderful that the texture of a flower being dried survives. It is not in the flower, but in our immortal spirit that the miracle is. All these delightful thoughts that come into my mind when I look at this flower—thoughts, and fancies, and memories—what are they but the result of the alchemy of the immortal spirit, which takes all the pleasant, fragile things of life, and transmutes them into immortality in our own nature! And if the poor spirit and intellect of man can do this, how much more may the supreme creative intellect mould and form all things, and bring the presence of the supernatural face to face with us in our daily walk! Earth becomes to us, if we thus think, nothing but the garden of the Lord..."