Chapter Forty

AS WE GROW OLDER, the city of the spirit has more and more importance for us. Unless a man be a blind and heedless fool, when he reaches the years of maturity be will pause occasionally, amidst the racket of the world, to ask himself: "Why am I here? And where am I going?"

In youth time moves too fast, distractions are too numerous, and the end of the road seems too far away to permit of such self-analysis. At least, so it was with me. Medical students as a rule are not remarkable for their reverence, and I was no different from others of the breed. In the anatomy rooms, dissecting formalin-impregnated remains, the human body seemed to me no more than a complex machine. None of the autopsies showed anything I could identify with an immortal soul. When I thought of God it was with a superior smile, indicative of biological scorn for such an outworn myth.

But when, as a qualified doctor, I went out into the world, to the mining valleys in South Wales and, in the practice of my profession, saw life at first hand, observed the courage and good humour of my fellow creatures struggling under great hardships, for the first time I began to penetrate into the realm of the spirit. As I assisted at the miracle of birth, sat with the dying in the still hours of night, heard the faint inexorable beating of' the dark wings of death, my outlook became less self-assured. Through the slow pangs of experience, new values were made apparent to me. I realised that the compass of existence held more than my textbooks had revealed, more than I had ever dreamed of. In short, I lost my superiority, and this, though

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