“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
To think that in the whole course of a life, a man may at last, after many wanderings, creep up an old worn man to his Father’s door – with just strength enough to sit down on the doorsteps, and hardly the strength to knock, and that he will get in and be clothed in youth again – that is worth living for!
Alas for Scotland that such families are now to seek! Would that the parliaments of our country held such a proportion of noble-minded men as was once to be found in the clay huts on a hill-side, or grouped about a central farm, huts whose wretched look would move the pity of many a man as inferior to their occupants as a King Charles’s lap-dog is to a shepherd’s colley. The utensils of their life were mean enough: the life itself was often elixir vitae—a true family life, looking up to the high, divine life. But well for the world that such life has been scattered over it, east and west, the seed of fresh growth in new lands. Out of offence to the individual, God brings good to the whole; for he pets no nation, but trains it for the perfect globular life of all nations—of his world—of his universe. As he makes families mingle, to redeem each from its family selfishness, so will he make nations mingle, and love and correct and reform and develop each other, till the planet-world shall go singing through space one harmony to the God of the whole earth. The excellence must vanish from one portion, that it may be diffused through the whole. The seed ripens on one favoured mound, and is scattered over the plain. We console ourselves with the higher thought, that if Scotland is worse, the world is better. Yea, even they by whom the offence came, and who have first to reap the woe of that offence, because they did the will of God to satisfy their own avarice in laying land to land and house to house, shall not reap their punishment in having their own will, and standing therefore alone in the earth when the good of their evil deeds returns upon it; but the tears of men that ascended to heaven in the heat of their burning dwellings shall descend in the dew of blessing even on the hearts of them that kindled the fire.—”Something too much of this.”
Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will ever be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him, everything else thrown in.
The terrible thing, the almost impossible thing is to hand over your whole self—all your wishes and precautions to Christ. But it is far easier than what we are all trying to do instead. For what we are trying to do is to remain what we call ‘ourselves,’ to keep personal happiness as our great aim in life, and yet at the same time be ‘good.’ We are all trying to let our mind and heart go their own way—centered on money or pleasure or ambition—and hoping, in spite of this, to behave honestly and chastely and humbly. And this is exactly what Christ warned us you could not do.