Life, and its Majesty…

I felt that something was not right with me, that something was required of me which I was not rendering. I could not, however, have told you what it was. Possibly the feeling had been for some time growing; but that day, so far as I can tell, I was first aware of it; and I presume it was the dim cause of my turning at the sound of a few singing voices, and entering that chapel.

I found about a dozen people present. Something in the air of the place, meagre and waste as it looked, yet induced me to remain. An address followed from a pale-faced, weak-looking man of middle age, who had no gift of person, voice, or utterance, to recommend what he said. But there dwelt a more powerful enforcement in him than any of those,–that of earnestness.

I went again, and again; and slowly, I cannot well explain how, the sense of life and its majesty grew upon me. Mr. Walton will, I trust, understand me when I say, that to one hungering for bread, it is of little consequence in what sort of platter it is handed him. This was a dissenting chapel,–of what order, it was long before I knew,–and my predilection was for the Church-services, those to which my father had accustomed me; but any comparison of the two to the prejudice of either, I should still–although a communicant of the Church of England–regard with absolute indifference. “It will be sufficient for my present purpose to allude to the one practical thought which was the main fruit I gathered from this good man,–the fruit by which I know that he was good.

[Footnote: Something like this is the interpretation of the word: “By their fruits ye shall know them” given by Mr. Maurice,–an interpretation which opens much.–G.M.D.]

It was this,–that if all the labor of God, as my teacher said, was to bring sons into glory, lifting them out of the abyss of evil bondage up to the rock of his pure freedom, the only worthy end of life must be to work in the same direction,–to be a fellow-worker with God. Might I not, then, do something such, in my small way, and lose no jot of my labor? I thought. The urging, the hope, grew in me. But I was not left to feel blindly after some new and unknown method of labor.

My teacher taught me that the way for me to help others was not to tell them their duty, but myself to learn of Him who bore our griefs and carried our sorrows. As I learned of him, I should be able to help them. I have never had any theory but just to be their friend,–to do for them the best I can. When I feel I may, I tell them what has done me good, but I never urge any belief of mine upon their acceptance.

George MacDonald

The Vicar’s Daughter, Chapter Nineteen

Reparagraphed

Advertisements

The Lowness of Our Nature

“There can hardly be a plainer proof of the lowness of our nature, until we have laid hold of the higher nature that belongs to us by birthright, than this, that even a just anger tends to make us unjust and unkind:”

Excerpt From

Mary Marston

George MacDonald

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/mary-marston/id506095113?mt=11

The Suitable Moment Never Comes

C. S. Lewis years ago to students and scholars at Oxford before World War 2 (Thanks for sharing, Tom):

“If men had postponed the search for knowledge and beauty until they were secure, the search would never have begun. . . . Life has never been normal. . . . Humanity . . . wanted knowledge and beauty now, and would not wait for the suitable moment that never comes. . . . The insects have chosen a different line: they have sought first the material welfare and security of the hive, and presumably they have their reward. Men are different. They propound mathematical theorems in beleaguered cities, conduct metaphysical arguments in condemned cells, make jokes on scaffolds, discuss the last new poem while advancing to the walls of Quebec, and comb their hair at Thermophylae. This is not a panache; it is our nature.” [“Learning in War-Time,” The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses (New York: Macmillan, 1980), pp. 21–22]

Human Weaknesses

“What I think I ought to do, my lord, I do without bargaining. I am not sorry I threw you from your horse, and to say so would be to lie.”

“Of course everybody thinks himself in the right!” said his lordship with a small sneer.

“It does not follow that no one is ever in the right!” returned Donal. “Does your lordship think you were in the right—either towards me or the poor animal who could not obey you because he was in torture?”

“I don’t say I do.”

“Then everybody does not think himself in the right! I take your lordship’s admission as an apology.”

“By no means: when I make an apology, I will do it; I will not sneak out of it.”

He was evidently at strife with himself: he knew he was wrong, but could not yet bring himself to say so. It is one of the poorest of human weaknesses that a man should be ashamed of saying he has done wrong, instead of so ashamed of having done wrong that he cannot rest till he has said so; for the shame cleaves fast until the confession removes it.

Excerpt From

Donal Grant, by George MacDonald

George MacDonald

https://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewBook?id=498702854

This material may be protected by copyright.

“There is a doctrine uttered in secret that man is a prisoner who has no right to open the door of his prison and run away; this is a great mystery which I do not quite understand. Yet I, too, believe that the gods are our guardians, and that we are a possession of theirs. Do you not agree ?”

—from PHAEDRUS by Socrates

It has been said that, after the Bible, Plato’s dialogues are the most influential books in Western culture. Of the dialogues, the Symposium is the most delightful and accessible, requiring no special knowledge of ancient Greek philosophy or customs. Dramatizing a party in fifth-century B.C. Athens, the deceptively unassuming Symposium introduces—in the guise of convivial after-dinner conversation—profound ideas about the nature of love. In Phaedrus, here published together with the Symposium, Plato discusses the place of eloquence in expounding truth. In both dialogues, Socrates plays the leading role, by turns teasing, arguing, analyzing, joking, inspiring, and cajoling his followers into understanding ideas that have remained central to Western thought through the centuries. READ more here: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/131792/symposium-and-phaedrus-by-plato/

Understand the Shadow

“There, sir!” he said; “that is the place: do tell me what it means.”

“I will try,” answered Donal; “I may not be able.”

He began to read at the top of the page.

“That’s not the place, sir!” said the boy. “It is there.”

“I must know something of what goes before it first,” returned Donal.

“Oh, yes, sir; I see!” he answered, and stood silent.

He was a fair-haired boy, with ruddy cheeks and a healthy look—sweet-tempered evidently.

Donal presently saw both what the sentence meant and the cause of his difficulty. He explained the thing to him.

“Thank you! thank you! Now I shall get on!” he cried, and ran up the hill.

“You seem to understand boys!” said the brother.

“I have always had a sort of ambition to understand ignorance.”

“Understand ignorance?”

“You know what queer shapes the shadows of the plainest things take: I never seem to understand any thing till I understand its shadow.”

The youth glanced keenly at Donal.

“I wish I had had a tutor like you!” he said.

Excerpt From

Donal Grant, by George MacDonald

George MacDonald

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/donal-grant-by-george-macdonald/id498702854?mt=11

This material may be protected by copyright.

A Place Called Heaven

“There is a place called ‘heaven’ where the good here unfinished is completed; and where the stories unwritten, and the hopes unfulfilled, are continued. We may laugh together yet.”

― J.R.R. Tolkien

From a letter to Michael Tolkien, his son.

[Michael was now an Officer Cadet at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst.]

9 June 1941 20 Northmoor Road, Oxford

(Thank you Tom, for sharing.)