THE FIRST CONVERSION IS THE WORK OF GOD. When I ceased speaking, but still continued to tremble all over with terror, I heard a still small voice behind me, whispering: "Return!" I lifted my head and looked around to see who was calling me and where he commanded me to return; but I saw no one, not even my guide, Mr. Ubiquitous. For even he had left me.

2 Then, lo! the voice again sounded: "Return!" Not knowing whither to return, nor how to find my way out of the darkness, I felt dismayed, but the voice called a third time: "Return to the place whence you came, to the home of your heart and shut the door behind you!"

3 THE SECOND CONVERSION REQUIRES OUR OWN ENDEAVOR AS WELL. I obeyed the counsel as I understood it, and I did exceedingly well to have thus obeyed God who was counselling me, but even that was His gift. Collecting my thoughts as well as I could, and shutting my eyes, ears, mouth, and nostrils, and all other outward passages. I entered into the inner recesses of my heart, and lo! it was dark. But after peering into it, and looking about a little, I perceived after a while a very faint light streaming in through some cracks, by which I was able to distinguish above in the vault of this my chamber a large round glass window. But it was so dirty and so thickly smeared with filth that no light could penetrate it.

4 DESCRIPTION OF CORRUPT HUMAN NATURE. Looking about me by this dim light, I discerned various pictures on the walls which, as it appeared to me, possessed once upon a time considerable beauty; but now the colors were faded and some limbs of the figures were severed or broken off. I approached closer and noticed their names: Prudence, Humility, Justice, Purity, Temperance, and so forth. In the middle of the room were scattered some damaged and broken ladders; also broken pulleys and pieces of ropes. Besides, I saw large wings with plucked feathers, as well as clock-wheels or bent cylinders, teeth, and rods, all scattered pell-mell.

5 WORLDLY WISDOM CANNOT MEND IT. I wondered what the purpose of these various instruments was and how and by whom they had been damaged: and how they could be repaired. But looking and considering I could think of nothing; nevertheless, I began to hope that he who had led me into this chamber by his call--whoever he might be--would make himself heard again and would direct me what else to do. For I began to be pleased with the beginnings of what I saw: the chamber did not have the offensive stench of those other places which I had visited in the world, neither did I hear the noise and clatter, the din and crash, the disquiet and whirl, the tugging and violence, (of which the world was full) for all was quiet here.

Chapter 38 ||| Labyrinth index page home