The Children's Blessing
By Virginia Roderick
On the slope of a hill, beneath silvery olives, a group was gathered
about the young stranger. He had entered the village only that
morning, seeking the companionship of such Nazarenes as might be
there. And they had brought him out here in the open to receive his
message. But though he carried them greetings, and news from the
distant groups of the Christ's followers, it was plain that he had not
been sent to them on a mission.
They waited until he should be ready to explain his quest.
"You did not see Him, then?"
Into the young man's eyes there came a great, yearning sadness. "No,"
he answered. "But you," he asked eagerly, "did none of you see Him?"
They shook their heads, all of them.
"We were too far away," one murmured.
"But I had for spiritual father one who had seen Him," the traveler
offered, his face lighting. "You know how He blessed a company of
little children? How He put His hands upon them?" He paused and they
nodded silently. "My teacher was one of those children," he said, his
dark eyes aglow with reverent pride.
A quick glance flashed about the group; but no one spoke and the
traveler went on, the radiance of his face blotted out again in
sadness. "It is because he is gone that I am a wanderer now. I was
always with him, and we went about together, preaching the Kingdom. It
was all so clear to my teacher because he had seen Him. He told me of
His wonderful look."
They fell silent, brooding and thoughtful.
Then one asked: "What was it like—the blessing He gave your teacher?
Did he gain goods and store?"
The young traveler's eyes opened in amazement. "Why no! How could that
be? My teacher was like Him," he explained simply.
Again the quick look passed about the circle. At last one spoke,
slowly: "There is a man here in the village who was also blessed with
The young traveler started up joyously. "Take me to him," he
entreated. "Let me talk with him; that is what I have come here
"Nay, friend—" began one; but another hurriedly whispered: "Let us
not tell him. Perhaps he can help." And so the first speaker finished:
"I fear you will not find him like your teacher, but you shall go; it
is only a step."
And they guided him, all but impatient, to a mean hovel just within
the town. There they left him.
It was a man with a dark, bitter face that answered his knock. "May I
speak with Nemuel?" the stranger asked courteously.
"I am Nemuel," growled the man curtly.
"But I mean Nemuel who was one of the children that Jesus blessed,"
persisted the young traveler, his face softly alight as the name
passed his lips.
"Come in; I am the man." He straightened proudly. "I was a child seven
years old when I saw Him——"
He stopped, for the young stranger, pale and gasping, broke in: "You
saw Him! He touched you! You have seen His face, and yet your
own—forgive me, friend. But my master was also one of the children
blessed by the Christ, and he was … different." He hesitated, still
looking at the somber face in puzzled distress.
The man caught the young stranger's arm. "You knew another of those He
blessed? Tell me, did he have great wealth, palaces, honors? Did he
wait long? Did the blessing tarry so long in the fulfilment as with
The young stranger shook his head in deep bewilderment. "I do not
understand. No, he had no wealth, no palaces, no honors. He followed
the Christ. He was blessed by His spirit. Why, how could one want
goods and honors when one had seen His wonderful smile, when His
arms—" He broke off, gazing at his host in appalled incomprehension.
Nemuel's dark face grew darker, more bitter. "Then there is no
blessing, after all," he said slowly. "I have waited, believing,
trusting. I have kept my life clean. I have kept myself holy—away
from those He had not touched—" The stranger drew a quick breath and
his eyes softened with pity. "I have never forgotten that I was
blessed above others. And now there is no blessing." And he
covered his face with his hands.
There was a silence and then the young stranger spoke very gently:
"The blessing my master taught me, was for all children—for all
childlike faith and trust and purity. It was a sanctification of the
Nemuel had lifted his head and was listening, his eyes fastened
wonderingly on the stranger's face.
"And it was not a blessing to be wrapped up in a napkin. It was not
one to bring you good fortune, as if it had been a sorcerer's charm.
It was a blessing for you to take and to make—to use it—to give it
to others. Through you He blessed all children…. And yet—"
the stranger's voice deepened—"yet there was something special
"What was it?" Nemuel breathed.
The stranger bent on him a gaze full of yearning. "Have you not
remembered His face?" he asked. "His wonderful look—just for you?"
There was a pleading note of reproach in his voice as he leaned toward
Nemuel, but his face was all love and tenderness.
Nemuel began to shake his head slowly, still fixing the stranger with
"No," he confessed. "I haven't been able to remember—not for years.
At first I did. Afterward I knew His face was wonderful, but I
could not see it. But now—now I begin to remember——"
The young stranger waited for the halting words, his face lighting
softly with a holy hope and joy.
"Why, your face—" Nemuel still hesitated, groping, and then suddenly
his voice rang out in triumph, and memory dawned clearly in his
eyes—"why, your face—is—like—His! Oh, I do
remember!—and—I begin to understand."