Hope

In that wretched hovel, his bare feet clasping the clay floor in constant search of a wavering equilibrium, with pitch darkness around him, and incapable of the simplest philosophical or religious reflection, he yet found life good. For it had interest. May, more, it had hope. I doubt however, whether there is any interest at all without hope.

—George MacDonald

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Because Thou Knowest

I cannot tell why this day I am ill;

But I am well because it is thy will—

Which is to make me pure and right like thee.

Not yet I need escape—’tis bearable

Because thou knowest. And when harder things

Shall rise and gather, and overshadow me,

I shall have comfort in thy strengthenings.

Master, Thou Workest 

Master, thou workest with such common things—Low souls, weak hearts, I mean—and hast to use,

Therefore, such common means and rescuings,

That hard we find it, as we sit and muse,

To think thou workest in us verily:

Bad sea-boats we, and manned with wretched crews—

That doubt the captain, watch the storm-spray flee.

— George MacDonald

Thou Who Knowest

When I am very weary with hard thought,

     And yet the question burns and is not quenched,

     My heart grows cool when to remembrance wrought

     That thou who know’st the light-born answer sought

     Know’st too the dark where the doubt lies entrenched—

     Know’st with what seemings I am sore perplexed,

     And that with thee I wait, nor needs my soul be vexed. 
– George MacDonald

The Naked Seed

My heart is empty. All the fountains that should run

With longing, are in me
Dried up. In all my countryside there is not one
That drips to find the sea.
I have no care for anything thy love can grant
Except the moment’s vain
And hardly noticed filling of the moment’s want
And to be free of pain.
Oh, thou that art unwearying, that dost neither sleep
Nor slumber, who didst take
All care for Lazarus in the careless tomb, oh keep
Watch for me till I wake.
If thou think for me what I cannot think, if thou
Desire for me what I
Cannot desire, my soul’s interior Form, though now
Deep-buried, will not die,
—No more than the insensible dropp’d seed which grows
Through winter ripe for birth
Because, while it forgets, the heaven remembering throws
Sweet influence still on earth,
—Because the heaven, moved moth-like by thy beauty, goes
Still turning round the earth.

CS Lewis

All Will Be Well

To Henry Cecil (1)

 

Dear Old Friend,

What can I say to you, for the hand of the Lord is heavy upon you. But it is his hand, and the very heaviness of it is good…. There is but one thought that can comfort, and that is that God is immeasurably more the father of our children than we are. It is all because he is our father that we are fathers…. It is all well – even in the face of such pain as yours – or the world goes to pieces for me.

It is well to say “The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away,” but it is not enough. We must add, And the Lord will give again: “The gifts of God are without repentance.” He takes that he may give more closely – make more ours…. The bond is henceforth closer between you and your son….

 

To give a thing and take again

Is counted meanness among men ;

Still less to take what once is given

Can be the royal way of heaven!

 

But human hearts are crumbly stuff,

And never, never love enough;

And so God takes and, with a smile,

Puts our best things away awhile.

 

Some therefore weep, some rave, some scorn;

Some wish they never had been born.

Some humble grow at last and still,

And then God gives them what they will.

 

~ George MacDonald

 

(1) This letter was written on the occasion of the death of Cecil’s eldest son.

 

Strange Paths

My prayers, my God, flow from what I am not;
I think thy answers make me what I am.

Like weary waves thought follows upon thought,

But the still depth beneath is all thine own,

And there thou mov’st in paths to us unknown.

Out of strange strife thy peace is strangely wrought;

If the lion in us pray—thou answerest the lamb.
— George MacDonald