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Autobiography of Alice A. Bailey - Chapter II
One of the words constantly occurring in occult books is the word "Path," meaning the Way back to our Source, to God, and to the spiritual center of all life. When translating it into French, what word shall we use? Le chemin? La rue? Le sentier? or what? When, therefore, you endeavor to translate a book as ancient as The New Testament into English, how can there be such a thing as verbal inspiration? All that you probably have is an old translation from the Aramaic or Hebrew into ancient Greek, and from the Greek into Latin, and from the Latin into Old English and thence, at a much later date, into the standard St. James Version. The same is true of biblical translations into all the many languages. I have been told that when The New Testament was being translated into French, some decades ago, they came to the words of Christ where He says, "I am the water of life." Joyously they translated it as "eau de vie" and proceeded to publish. Then they realized that those three words are the French name for "brandy," and had to reprint, making Christ say, "I am living water" - "eau vivante," which somehow is not exactly the same thing. Translations of the Bible have passed through many hands; they are the result of the theological thinking of many monks and translators. Hence the endless disputes by theologians over significances and meanings. Hence, also, the probably incorrect translation of very ancient terms and hence, also, the well meant but crude interpolations of the early Christian monks who tried to render into their mother tongue these ancient writings. I realize all this now but in those days the English Bible was infallibly [53] correct and I knew nothing about translation difficulties. This was my state of mind when a great change took place in my life.

My sister announced her intention to go to Edinburgh University and work for her medical degree and I was immediately faced with the problem as to what I was going to do. I did not want to live alone, or to spend any time travelling about and amusing myself. I did not, surprisingly, want to be a missionary. I was dedicated to good works, but what particular good works? I owe much to a clergyman at that time who knew me well and who suggested to me that I take up the life of an evangelist. I was not greatly intrigued. The evangelists I had met (and they were many) had not impressed me much. They seemed a badly educated bunch of people; they wore cheap and badly cut clothes and their hair seemed to need brushing; they were too good to be well-groomed. I could not picture myself yelling and ranting on platforms as they seemed to do and as the circumstances of arousing people seemed to require. I hesitated and wondered and talked it over with my aunt, and she also hesitated and wondered. Girls of my class, also, did not do that kind of thing. The clothes, diction, hair style and jewelry would not appeal to the kind of people who haunted revival meetings, seeking salvation. It was not proper. But I prayed and waited and believed that some day I would get "a call" and would know what I should do.

To fill in the interim I amused myself by falling in love (so I thought) with a clergyman by the name of Roberts. He was deadly dull and frightfully shy and years older than I and I got nowhere with him so I grinned and withdrew - literally, so you can see how deep my feeling went.

Then it was unexpectedly suggested to me that I should go and visit the Sandes Soldiers Homes in Ireland and, after settling my sister in her rooms in Edinburgh, I went [54] over to Ireland to investigate. I found that these Soldiers Homes were quite unique and that Miss Elise Sandes herself was a very exquisite, charming and cultured woman. Her workers were all girls and women of the same social set as myself. Miss Sandes had given up her entire life in an attempt to ameliorate the lot of "Tommy Atkins" and ran her homes along very different lines to those usually found in army camps and very different to the usual Gospel work to be found in our cities. She had many homes in Ireland and several in India. Among those working in the homes were several who became my friends and who helped me a lot to adjust myself to the changed environment - Edith Arbuthnot-Holmes, Eva Maguire, John Kinahan, Catherine Rowan-Hamilton and others.

My first experience was working in the Home in Belfast. All these homes were equipped with large coffee shops in which hundreds of men were fed nightly, paying for the food at cost. There were rooms where they could write letters, play games, sit around the fire and read the current papers, play chess and checkers and be talked to by us if they were feeling lonely, fed-up and homesick. There were usually two ladies in each home and we had our own quarters there. There was frequently a large dormitory where soldiers and sailors could stop for the night if out on pass, and also a Gospel-meeting room, equipped with a harmonium, hymnbooks, Bibles and chairs and someone who could expound the Scriptures and plead with the men for their souls' salvation. I had to learn all aspects of the work and hard work it was, though I found I loved every bit of it. The first months were the hardest. It is no easy thing for a shy girl (and I was abnormally shy) to walk into a room with perhaps three hundred men in it and, probably, not another woman present and make friends with them; go up and sit down beside them and play checkers; be nice to them, remain [55] impersonal and, at the same time, give the feeling that you cared about them and wanted to help.

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