A Children's Day Story of What One Girl Did to Make Others Happy.
THE LESSON—That one little act may multiply to bless countless thousands.
The story of Jennie Casseday is one of the sweetest narratives of humble service that can be told to children and their elders. It is a chapter from real life which may be copied in varied form by each one of us. Its use is suggested for Children's day, but it is good for many other occasions.
"This morning, while we are surrounded by these beautiful flowers, and while our hearts are light as we think of all the beauty and brightness that God has given us, I want to tell you the story of Jennie Casseday and what she did to bring beauty and gladness into the world. You may think that Jennie couldn't do very much, because she was a poor little cripple girl. She lived at Louisville, Kentucky. When she was small, she was just as lively and happy as any other little girl; but one day she suffered from a terrible accident and from that time she was helpless. I am going to draw a picture of Jennie's crutch to represent her suffering and her helplessness. [Draw crutch with brown, Fig. 54.]
"Have I said she was helpless? Well, this is what I mean: She could not help herself, but she could help others, and this is how she did it: For several dark, painful years Jennie Casseday suffered and waited—waited for something which she could do to enable her to send some ray of light out into the world which would brighten other hearts. One day she read in the New York Observer how a young girl school teacher, who lived in the outskirts of the city of Boston and was employed in one of the down-town schools, was bringing brightness into the homes of many poor people by taking with her large baskets of beautiful roses and lilacs and snowballs and many other kinds of flowers from her suburban home and giving them to the children whom she met. It was a simple little act, but the reading of it by Jennie Casseday brought a transformation in her life. I wish I knew the name of this young school teacher in Boston, but I can't give it to you. But it was she who gave to Jennie Casseday the thought for which she had longed. Jennie's suffering was almost forgotten in her planning and determination to raise flowers and give them to the sick and the needy in Louisville. Her friends soon learned of her plans and there were many willing hearts and hands to help her. Under her guidance the Louisville Flower Mission was established, and it soon proved to be a great and growing blessing. It had been doing its beautiful work for four years when Miss Frances E. Willard, head of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, visited Louisville. There she heard of the mission and the noble young woman who founded it. Miss Willard visited Jennie Casseday in her sick room, and when the conference had closed, Jennie had been placed at the head of the Flower Mission department of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, which was at that time brought into existence. This was in 1882, and Jennie continued in this great work until the time of her death in 1893. June 9 is observed as the Red Letter day of the Flower Mission department of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, for this is the birthday of Jennie Casseday. Every year, thousands of bouquets of beautiful flowers find their way into homes of the sick and the poor throughout the land. And so, with the forgetting of the sufferings of Jennie Casseday and the remembrance of her beautiful life, I think we may well change this crutch to something more commemorative of her life. [With green chalk, change the crutch to a stem of a carnation, and with pink draw the blossom, Fig. 55.]
"In Louisville, the people have sought to honor the memory of this young woman by the establishment of the Jennie Casseday Infirmary and the Rest Cottage Home for Working Girls. The school children of Louisville erected a beautiful monument to her memory bearing an appropriate inscription.
"Some of us who have our health and strength may well wonder if we are fulfilling all of God's demands. Boys and girls, let me impress upon you the thought that it is not the great, showy thing that makes people love us, but the careful doing of the seemingly little things, which, when summed up, make a magnificent whole. Jennie Casseday did what she could. No more is required of us. But that much is certainly expected, and we will fall short if we fail to meet the expectation."
[A beautiful close to this talk would be the recitation or reading of Dr. Van Dyke's poem "Transformation," which may be found in "The Blue Flower" or in "The Builders and Other Poems."]
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