A Broken Spirit

“Stood at his feet behind him weeping.” Luke 7:38

Those who are familiar with the story of Paradise and the Peri¹ will remember how the banished Peri sought to gain admittance at the closed gate of Paradise. The angel told the nymph that there was one hope — that the Peri might yet be forgiven who would bring to the eternal gate the gift that was most dear to Heaven.

The Peri wandered everywhere, sweeping all the lands with her swift wings, searching for some rare and precious thing to carry up to the barred gate. Amid scenes of carnage she found a hero dying for liberty; and

Swiftly descending on a ray
Of morning light, she caught the last,
Last glorious drop his heart had shed,
Before its free-born spirit fled.

With this she flew up to the gate; but, precious as was the boon, the crystal bar moved not. Next in her quest the Peri came upon a dying lover, over whom his betrothed hung; and stealing the farewell sigh of that vanishing soul, again she sought the gate of bliss: but even to this precious boon the bar swung not.

Again she wandered far, and came at last upon a wretched criminal, stained by countless deeds of shame and blood, but now weeping in bitter penitence. The Peri with job caught up the holy tear of contrition as it fell, and swiftly bore it away to heaven; and the door flew open, admitting her to the blessedness within.

This beautiful Oriental legend is not untrue to heavenly fact. The Bible tells us the same thing. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” No offerings we can bring are so precious as contrite tears. No song on earth rings with such music up in heaven as the penitential cry, “God be merciful to me a sinner!”