Page:Homes of the London Poor.djvu/69

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67
VOLUNTEERS IN THE ORGANIZATION OF CHARITY.

consecrating their whole life to the work. I must here express my conviction that we want very much more the influence that emanates not from "a Home," but from "homes." One looks with reverence on the devotion of those who, leaving domestic life, are ready to sacrifice all in the cause of the poor, and give up time, health, and strength in the effort to diminish the great mass of sin and sorrow that is in the world. I have seen faces shining like St. Stephen's with sight of heaven beyond the pain and sin. I have seen shoulders bent as St. Christopher's might have been—better in angels' sight than upright ones. I have seen hair turned gray by sorrow shared with others. And before such, one bends with reverence. But I am sure we ought to desire to have as workers, joyful, strong, many-sided natures, and that the poor, tenderly as they may cling to those who, as it were, cast in their lots amongst them, are better for the bright visits of those who are strong, happy, and sympathetic.

"Send me," said one day a poor woman, who did not even know the visitor's name, "the lady with the sweet smile and the bright golden hair."

The work amongst the poor is, in short, better done by those who do less of it, or rather, who gain strength and brightness in other ways. I hope for a return to the old fellowship between rich and poor; to a solemn sense of relationship; to quiet life side by side; to men and women coming out from bright, good, simple homes, to see, teach, and learn from the poor; returning to gather fresh strength from home warmth and love, and seeing in their own homes something of the spirit which should pervade all.

I believe that educated people would come forward if once they saw how they could be really useful, and without neglecting nearer claims. Let us reflect that hundreds of workers are wanted; that if they are to preserve their vigor they must not be over-worked; and that each of us who might help and holds back not only leaves work undone, but injures, to a certain extent, the work of others.