The Aim of Life

THE aim of life is appreciation; there is no sense in not appreciating things; and there is no sense in having more of them if you have less appreciation of them.”

~G.K. Chesterton: ‘Autobiography’ (1936)

The Nursery, and the Tale of Paradise

It comes to this then, after the grand theory of the apostle:–The world exists for our education; it is the nursery of God’s children, served by troubled slaves, troubled because the children are themselves slaves–children, but not good children. Beyond its own will or knowledge, the whole creation works for the development of the children of God into the sons of God. When at last the children have arisen and gone to their Father; when they are clothed in the best robe, with a ring on their hands and shoes on their feet, shining out at length in their natural, their predestined sonship; then shall the mountains and the hills break forth before them into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Then shall the wolf dwell with the lamb, and the leopard lie down with the kid and the calf, and the young lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. Then shall the fables of a golden age, which faith invented, and unbelief threw into the past, unfold their essential reality, and the tale of paradise prove itself a truth by becoming a fact. Then shall every ideal show itself a necessity, aspiration although satisfied put forth yet longer wings, and the hunger after righteousness know itself blessed. Then first shall we know what was in the Shepherd’s mind when he said, ‘I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly.

Excerpt From

Unspoken Sermons: Series I., II., and III.

George MacDonald

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Flowing and Free

Her society did much to keep my heart open, and to prevent it from becoming selfishly absorbed in its cares for husband and children. For love which is only concentrating its force, that is, which is not at the same time widening its circle, is itself doomed, and for its objects ruinous, be those objects ever so sacred. God Himself could never be content that His children should love Him only; nor has He allowed the few to succeed who have tried after it: perhaps their divinest success has been their most mortifying failure. Indeed, for exclusive love sharp suffering is often sent as the needful cure, — needful to break the stony crust, which, in the name of love for one’s own, gathers about the divinely glowing core; a crust which, promising to cherish by keeping in the heat, would yet gradually thicken until all was crust; for truly, in things of the heart and spirit, as the warmth ceases to spread, the molten mass within ceases to glow, until at length, but for the divine care and discipline, there would be no love left for even spouse or child, only for self, — which is eternal death.

~George MacDonald, The Vicar’s Daughter

The Truly Wise

The truly wise talk little about religion, and are not given to taking sides on doctrinal issues. When they hear people advocating or opposing the claims of this or that party in the church, they turn away with a smile such as men yield to the talk of children. They have no time, they would say, for that kind of thing. They have enough to do in trying to faithfully practice what is beyond dispute.

~ George MacDonald

My Heart


Night, with her power to silence day,

Filled up my lonely room,

Quenching all sounds but one that lay

Beyond her passing doom,

Where in his shed a workman gay

Went on despite the gloom.

I listened, and I knew the sound,

And the trade that he was plying;

For backwards, forwards, bound on bound,

A shuttle was flying, flying-

Weaving ever-till, all unwound,

The weft go out a sighing.


As hidden in thy chamber lowest

As in the sky the lark,

Thou, mystic thing, on working goest

Without the poorest spark,

And yet light’s garment round me throwest,

Who else, as thou, were dark.

With body ever clothing me,

Thou mak’st me child of light;

I look, and, Lo, the earth and sea,

The sky’s rejoicing height,

A woven glory, globed by thee,

Unknowing of thy might!

And when thy darkling labours fail,

And thy shuttle moveless lies,

My world will drop, like untied veil

From before a lady’s eyes;

Or, all night read, a finished tale

That in the morning dies.


Yet not in vain dost thou unroll

The stars, the world, the seas-

A mighty, wonder-painted scroll

Of Patmos mysteries,

Thou mediator ‘twixt my soul

And higher things than these!

Thy holy ephod bound on me,

I pass into a seer;

For still in things thou mak’st me see,

The unseen grows more clear;

Still their indwelling Deity

Speaks plainer in mine ear.

Divinely taught the craftsman is

Who waketh wonderings;

Whose web, the nursing chrysalis

Round Psyche’s folded wings,

To them transfers the loveliness

Of its inwoven things.

Yet joy when thou shalt cease to beat!-

For a greater heart beats on,

Whose better texture follows fleet

On thy last thread outrun,

With a seamless-woven garment, meet

To clothe a death-born son.

by George MacDonald

Strange Notions, With GKC

I felt in my bones; first, that this world does not explain itself. It may be a miracle with a supernatural explanation; it may be a conjuring trick, with a natural explanation. But the explanation of the conjuring trick, if it is to satisfy me, will have to be better than the natural explanations I have heard. The thing is magic, true or false. Second, I came to feel as if magic must have a meaning, and meaning must have some one to mean it. There was something personal in the world, as in a work of art; whatever it meant it meant violently. Third, I thought this purpose beautiful in its old design, in spite of its defects, such as dragons. Fourth, that the proper form of thanks to it is some form of humility and restraint: we should thank God for beer and Burgundy by not drinking too much of them. We owed, also, an obedience to whatever made us. And last, and strangest, there had come into my mind a vague and vast impression that in some way all good was a remnant to be stored and held sacred out of some primordial ruin. Man had saved his good as Crusoe saved his goods: he had saved them from a wreck. All this I felt and the age gave me no encouragement to feel it. And all this time I had not even thought of Christian theology.