Retrospection and Introspection

Retrospection and Introspection

Voices Not Our Own

8Many peculiar circumstances and events connected with my childhood throng the chambers of memory. For some twelve months, when I was about eight years old, I repeatedly heard a voice, calling me distinctly by name, three times, in an ascending scale. I thought this was my mother’s voice, and sometimes went to her, beseeching her to tell me what she wanted. Her answer was always, “Nothing, child! What do you mean?” Then I would say, “Mother, who did call me? I heard somebody call Mary, three times!” This continued until I grew discouraged, and my mother was perplexed and anxious.

    One day, when my cousin, Mehitable Huntoon, was visiting us, and I sat in a little chair by her side, in the same room with grandmother, — the call again came, so loud that Mehitable heard it, though I had ceased to notice it. Greatly surprised, my cousin turned to me and said, “Your mother is calling you!” but I answered not, till again the same call was thrice repeated. Mehitable then said sharply, “Why don’t you go? your mother is calling you!” I then left the room, went to my mother, and once more asked her if she had summoned me? She answered as always before. Then I earnestly declared my cousin had heard the voice, and said that mother 9wanted me. Accordingly she returned with me to grandmother’s room, and led my cousin into an adjoining apartment. The door was ajar, and I listened with bated breath. Mother told Mehitable all about this mysterious voice, and asked if she really did hear Mary’s name pronounced in audible tones. My cousin answered quickly, and emphasized her affirmation.

    That night, before going to rest, my mother read to me the Scriptural narrative of little Samuel, and bade me, when the voice called again, to reply as he did, “Speak, Lord; for Thy servant heareth.” The voice came; but I was afraid, and did not answer. Afterward I wept, and prayed that God would forgive me, resolving to do, next time, as my mother had bidden me. When the call came again I did answer, in the words of Samuel, but never again to the material senses was that mysterious call repeated.
  Is it not much that I may worship Him,
      With naught my spirit’s breathings to control,
  And feel His presence in the vast and dim
      And whispering woods, where dying thunders roll
  From the far cataracts? Shall I not rejoice
  That I have learned at last to know His voice
      From man’s? — I will rejoice! My soaring soul
  Now hath redeemed her birthright of the day,
  And won, through clouds, to Him, her own unfettered way!
 MRS. HEMANS