Guests in Eden

was to make her mother as happy as possible. The last fifteen years of Mrs. Dickinson's life they were constantly together, either at home or abroad, Martha scarcely ever leaving her. Every wish of her mother she fulfilled if she could. Every one who went to the house realized the devotion. The greater such devotion the greater the loneliness if one is left alone, and con­sequently the remaining years of Martha's life must have been very lonely ones. She said she always felt nearer her family when she went up to Wildwood, where besides her father and mother lay the two brothers of whom she was so fond.

She was a faithful attendant at the First Congregational Church, taking pride in sitting at the head of what had been for so long the family pew. I doubt if anyone was more regu­lar in attendance, but as year after year went by she pondered deeply on becoming a member of the church. Because of her artistic and poetical tendencies, a service with ritual appealed very strongly to her, but at last she decided that she could not pass by the church of her ancestors, and chose to make her public confession in the Congregational Church, to which membership she remained loyal, and to whose causes she gave liberally.

It was more with my sister Anne, that she turned to the spiritual. There was something in one which flamed to some­ thing in the other, and together they looked beyond the horizon. In Martha's first letter to me after my sister's death, she wrote: "I am still staggering under the blow, Anne always understood. She is in the Light, you and I are still far from home, and the night is dark. Surely some day the Light will shine for us." Little she knew that it would shine for her by the end of another year.

Almost the last thing she wrote in verse was a PRAYER FOR TONIGHT: inspired by those in the service and closing with these lines,

"we pray for those appointed to die . . .
Grant unto them a place of Eternal Light."


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Transcription and commentary copyright 2000 by
Martha Nell Smith, all rights reserved.
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Last updated on March 10, 2008

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