Being Such

“Does she never try to teach them any thing, Ethel?” “She is constantly teaching them, whether she tries or not,” I answered. “If you can make any one believe that there is something somewhere to be trusted, is not that the best lesson you can give him? That can be taught only by being such that people cannot but trust you.”

George MacDonald, The Vicar’s Daughter

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By All Your Actions

TO MISS GLADDING

59 Magdalen College, Oxford.

June 7th 1945

Dear Miss Gladding I am afraid I don’t know any books more elementary than my own wh. wd. help. The truth is that when a person (not herself v. bookish or philosophical) has lost faith under so v. great and bewildering a trial, no intellectual approach is likely to avail. But where people can resist and ignore arguments they may be unable to resist lives. I am afraid, my dear lady, the only hope lies in you and in any other Xtian friends she has. It is in so far as you succeed in representing Christ to her by all your actions and words that she may, even unconsciously, come to know Him. This is a terrible thing to say to you, but He will make you able to be what you need to be.

CS Lewis

Love of Our Neighbor

One word more: This love of our neighbour is the only door out of the dungeon of self, where we mope and mow, striking sparks, and rubbing phosphorescences out of the walls, and blowing our own breath in our own nostrils, instead of issuing to the fair sunlight of God, the sweet winds of the universe. The man thinks his consciousness is himself; whereas his life consisteth in the inbreathing of God, and the consciousness of the universe of truth. To have himself, to know himself, to enjoy himself, he calls life; whereas, if he would forget himself, tenfold would be his life in God and his neighbours. The region of man’s life is a spiritual region. God, his friends, his neighbours, his brothers all, is the wide world in which alone his spirit can find room. Himself is his dungeon. If he feels it not now, he will yet feel it one day—feel it as a living soul would feel being prisoned in a dead body, wrapped in sevenfold cerements, and buried in a stone-ribbed vault within the last ripple of the sound of the chanting people in the church above. His life is not in knowing that he lives, but in loving all forms of life. He is made for the All, for God, who is the All, is his life. And the essential joy of his life lies abroad in the liberty of the All. His delights, like those of the Ideal Wisdom, are with the sons of men. His health is in the body of which the Son of Man is the head. The whole region of life is open to him—nay, he must live in it or perish.

~George MacDonald, Unspoken Sermons

ADVENIAT REGNUM TUUM

Not that the widespread wings of wrong brood o’er a moaning earth,

Not from the clinging curse of gold, the random lot of birth;

Not from the misery of the weak, the madness of the strong,

Goes upward from our lips the cry, “How long, oh Lord, how long?”

Not only from the huts of toil, the dens of sin and shame,

From lordly halls and peaceful homes the cry goes up the same;

Deep in the heart of every man, where’er his life be spent,

There is a noble weariness, a holy discontent.

Where’er to mortal eyes has come, in silence dark and lone,

Some glimmer of the far-off light the world has never known,

Some ghostly echoes from a dream of earth’s triumphal song,

Then as the vision fades we cry, “How long, oh Lord, how long?”

Long ages, from the dawn of time, men’s toiling march has wound

Towards the world they ever sought, the world they never found;

Still far before their toiling path the glimmering promise lay,

Still hovered round the struggling race, a dream by night and day.

Mid darkening care and clinging sin they sought their unknown home,

Yet ne’er the perfect glory came—Lord, will it ever come?

The weeding of earth’s garden broad from all its growths of wrong,

When all man’s soul shall be a prayer, and all his life a song.

Aye, though through many a starless night we guard the flaming oil,

Though we have watched a weary watch, and toiled a weary toil,

Though in the midnight wilderness, we wander still forlorn,

Yet bear we in our hearts the proof that God shall send the dawn.

Deep in the tablets of our hearts he writes that yearning still,

The longing that His hand hath wrought shall not his hand fulfil?

Though death shall close upon us all before that hour we see,

The goal of ages yet is there—the good time yet to be:

Therefore, tonight, from varied lips, in every house and home,

Goes up to God the common prayer, “Father, Thy Kingdom come.”

G.K. Chesterton – 17 years old

To Understand

“We are all very anxious to be understood, and it is very hard not to be. But there is one thing much more necessary.’

What is that, grandmother?’

To understand other people.’

Yes, grandmother. I must be fair – for if I’m not fair to other people, I’m not worth being understood myself. I see.”

― George MacDonald, The Princess and the Goblin