Skip to main content
THE EXERCISES 157
without taking much notice, when suddenly an artist comes up
and exclaims: " How exquisite is the bend which the bank makes-
under the shadow of that cliff! " We at once feel the hitherto life-
less scene come to life within our consciousness as if illumined
by a ray of sunshine and we experience the joy of having realized
to the full what we had felt before only imperfectly.
This is our mission: to cast a ray of light and pass on.
I compare the effects of these first lessons with the impressions
of a solitary wanderer who is walking, serene and happy, in a
shady grove, meditating; that is, leaving his inner thought free to
wander. Suddenly a church bell pealing out nearby recalls him
to himself; then he feels more keenly that peaceful bliss which
had already been born, though dormant, within him.
To stimulate life, leaving it free, however, to unfold itself, that
is the first duty of the educator.
For such a delicate mission great art is required to suggest
the right moment and to limit intervention, lest one should disturb
or lead astray rather than help the soul which is coming to life
and which will live by virtue of its own efforts.
This art must accompany the scientific method, because the
simplicity of our lessons bears a great resemblance to experiments
in experimental psychology.
As soon as the teacher has touched the hearts of her pupils,
one by one, awakening and reviving life in them as if by the touch
of an invisible fairy, she will possess these hearts; and a sign, a
word will be sufficient, because each of them is keenly aware of
her, acknowledges her and listens to her.
There will come a day when the mistress, to her great
astonishment, will realize that all the children obey her like gentle
baby lambs, not only ready for her signal but watching for it.
They regard her as one who gives them life, and they hope
insatiably to receive new life from her.
Experience has revealed this to us and what constitutes the
greatest marvel for those who visit the Children's Houses is that
collective discipline is obtained as if by some magic power. Fifty