Enrichment and Inspiration for Beta Sigma Phi Sisters from Marilyn Ross
"In the early years of Beta Sigma Phi an incident occurred which I shall always remember. During those depression years that followed the stock market crash of 1929 we were establishing our chapters in eastern cities of widespread unemployment and much industrial unrest.
Financial insecurity had engendered anxiety, doubt, and other forms of insecurity in the minds of most people we met. Our organization, in its infancy, was entirely unknown in that section and had only such prestige as was inherent in its aims and purposes; in other words it could appeal only to those who had faith and were willing to accept it on that faith.
An invitation to membership was presented to a young woman who had lost all her savings in a bank failure and who, though she still had a job, had taken a drastic cut in salary. She had every reason to feel insecure. But she was what we know today as a "typical" Beta Sigma Phi. She listened courteously to what I could tell her of our hopes and aspirations, and she unhesitantly accepted membership. She knew exactly why she made her decision, too, and it is for that I remember the event so vividly.
She had come upon a vital truth through the "crash." It seems that for years she had saved her money to make an extended trip abroad. She had denied herself many things along the way, not only clothes and creature comforts, but theaters, concerts, books, and other cultural pursuits which had appealed and been brushed aside to provide the grand tour to come. Now she was fully determined to invest in "life"--in everyday living. She even laughed as she said, "Two years ago I would have denied myself this . . . isn't that awful?"
Today she would tell you that on the day we met she bought a ticket on a journey to the end of her days--a journey so full of glad companionship, interesting activity, and personal development, such as no other trip could rival. She embarked upon the way of life we know as Beta Sigma Phi, the way of the Good, the True, and the Beautiful.
Each of us has a mission to perform as long as we live. It varies as we vary as individuals. But it may be summed up in general by the statement that we are committed to live the good life. We should love our God and our fellows, develop our abilities and talents, and give to the world about us the best we have. And we should take from the God and from the world as much as we can receive of the wealth of love and truth and beauty which everywhere abounds.
Beta Sigma Phi helps the member both to give and to receive. We must give to receive, and we must often receive so that we may give.
We receive the Good, because we learn to recognize and to give that which is good. Friendship, for one thing. On every list (and I never pass one I see) of those things which wise people call "good" in life, I find that friends, or friendship, rank very high. In Beta Sigma Phi we practice friendship. There are times when it is not easy, and we must develop to do it. The rewards are rich.
One list I have before me as I write is called "Ten Wise Wishes," written by Dr. Walter Reid Hunt, a Unitarian Minister of Duxbury, Massachusetts. As we read his list we easily see that each one is served in our programs and practices, implicit in our rituals, and required in our pledges to ourselves and to our sisterhood. I mention these, for example: an understanding heart; moments of leisure; work to do which has real value; a mind unafraid to travel; something beautiful of nature and from the hands of man; the power to laugh; a sense of the presence of God.
Anyone who hopes for a good life should make such a list of values and review it often to be sure of her "goods."
AND THE TRUE--WHAT OF IT? We must not be daunted because so many have asked, "What is truth?" Diogenes in searching for an honest man was searching for a truth. In one aspect truth is honesty, and only an honest person can know the truth. There is no proper search for truth that does not first of all begin to live such truth as is known.
In this day of miracle pills it is well to be reminded that there are also miracle pills of truth. These are proverbs. Proverbs are in the world of thought what gold coin is in the world of business--great value in small compass.
Most people have a few treasured sayings they live by. What are yours? Put these on your list for the good life too. Proverbs are the distilled wisdom of long experience. They are wisdom in a nutshell. Single words, short maxims, homely truths, old sayings are the masters of the world of thought. The great value of such maxims is that they separate those who act on principle from those who act on impulse.
If someone attacks your maxim as a cliche, accept this as a challenge to think it through again--the truth is there for you and you will find it. Equally so, when one of these age-old sayings seems to you disputable, give it thought for thus you may serve the "search for truth."
AND THE BEAUTIFUL! Dulcet organ tones should fill the cathedral of our heart at mention of this word, sunrise and sunset splendors burst upon the mind's eye at this mention. O, the wonder of beauty! Often I have asked myself why, when God so richly endowed this world with all the material needs a man cold ever have and all the challenge and opportunity for action, courage and development, and even with faith and love to turn their footsteps heavenward, how then did He happen to grant us that super-grace, that wholly un-utilitarian gift of beauty?
Why did He spread such splendors solely to delight the human eye? Why did He cause such glorious harmonies to enthrall the human ear? Why did He imbue us with a sense of the dramatic, lending epic proportion to the actions in our lives? Why did He cause the very cells of our bodies to vibrate with a sense of rhythm and a response to it?
The echo only answers . . . "Why?" So we must wonder. Even as we wonder why He gave us life and faith and love.
Why? Why? The wonder grows! The beauty, the mystery, and the wonder grows. Contemplating it we are as children. A child has this sense of wonder. He feels the inward glow, the sense of awe, as he sees shadows move across the snow, the baby bird in his nest, the berries on the vine. In the child world of the wonderful, he sits in adoration before its beauty and its majesty.
The child lives in a timeless world. There is no reality in the clock or calendar. Spontaneously and completely he enjoys each moment without thought of the past or the future. So we too, as we listen to the wind in the trees or watch the changing color of light and movement of shadow, become free of the tyranny of time as we sit and dream, our hearts exalted and time no longer our master.
A child lives in a friendly world. He does not try to reform his friends; he just enjoys them. His outgoing love extends to the neighbor's cat and the frog in the garden.
And each day the miracle is renewed.
Your Founder once wrote of his most profound experience in Beta Sigma Phi, following the ritual for a Preceptor chapter. He said: "It seemed to confer a benediction upon all the great moments we had experienced together throughout the years, and simultaneously and refreshingly said to us, 'We are beginning again'."
Here, then is proof of the wisdom of that young woman who those many years ago crashed into her moment of truth by turning aside from a bankrupt plan for a ticket to go abroad and bought instead a ticket to life with us, in this renascence that we share.
And since we are always "beginning again," I think each day we should have a special appointment, a time of meeting with our God, to check our list of the "goods of life," searching the inventory to make it better and to make us better able to measure to its size. Then, on the morrow, we can the better "begin again."