Summoning Joy

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Do you have the strength to summon joy? Gratitude, sure – that is doable. But joy? A smile in the face of all the darkness? To choose laughter in the face of tears? And yet, it is joy that lifts our spirits to the clouds, when the tendrils of despair would drag us down into the mire, and suffocate us there…

He does all things well – by which I mean, he chooses to do the right thing, in the right way, every time. Do we have the strength to follow? To put ourselves in remembrance, again and again, that this all shall pass, and that he that does the will of the father lives forever? To choose joy, when our hearts would faint and despair? To choose to be strong and conquer, where we would normally react and let go, or break down and cry?

The difference lies in holding on to the knowledge that this time of difficulty and darkness will pass. It lies in remembering that if we are in it, we can win it. And it lies in keeping close to our hearts the knowledge that our father loves us. And that he will not allow one straw more than we can bear – that every challenge and disappointment, every stone thrown our way, if taken the right way, can be used as another building block, another step upon which to rise higher. The challenges are medicinal – a medicine that is not given where not needed, and that when required, will bring us to health, to strength, to sanity, and in the end, to joy.

So let us fight on, and may God grant us that mystery of the laughter of Christian men, that has “Roared through a thousand tales…” May we also stand with the giants of the ages – those “Kings and clowns in a merry plight,” and learn from them how to take ourselves and the difficult situations around us lightly – that like the angels, we too may learn to fly. And in the face of dark and uncertain days, may we “Follow the star that lives and leaps… Follow the fire unfurled For riseth up against realm and rod, a thing forgotten, a thing downtrod, the last lost giant, even God…”

And the earth shook and the King stood still
Under the greenwood bough,
And the smoking cake lay at his feet
And the blow was on his brow.

Then Alfred laughed out suddenly,
Like thunder in the spring,
Till shook aloud the lintel-beams,
And the squirrels stirred in dusty dreams,
And the startled birds went up in streams,
For the laughter of the King.

And the beasts of the earth and the birds looked down,
In a wild solemnity,
On a stranger sight than a sylph or elf,
On one man laughing at himself
Under the greenwood tree—

The giant laughter of Christian men
That roars through a thousand tales,
Where greed is an ape and pride is an ass,
And Jack’s away with his master’s lass,
And the miser is banged with all his brass,
The farmer with all his flails;

Tales that tumble and tales that trick,
Yet end not all in scorning—
Of kings and clowns in a merry plight,
And the clock gone wrong and the world gone right,
That the mummers sing upon Christmas night
And Christmas Day in the morning.

Follow the star that lives and leaps,
Follow the sword that sings,
For we go gathering heathen men,
A terrible harvest, ten by ten,
As the wrath of the last red autumn—then
When Christ reaps down the kings.

Follow a light that leaps and spins,
Follow the fire unfurled!
For riseth up against realm and rod,
A thing forgotten, a thing downtrod,
The last lost giant, even God,
Is risen against the world.

~ The Ballad of the White Horse

And Colan’s eyes with mystery
And iron laughter stirred,
And he spoke aloud, but lightly
Not labouring to be heard.

“Oh, truly we be broken hearts,
For that cause, it is said,
We light our candles to that Lord
That broke Himself for bread.

~ The Ballad of the White Horse

But some see God like Guthrum,
Crowned, with a great beard curled,
But I see God like a good giant,
That, labouring, lifts the world.

~ The Ballad of the White Horse

Atlas by Artus Quellinus (1)

~Watergirl 

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Trifles Over Visions


“We too dull our understandings with trifles, fill the heavenly spaces with phantoms, waste the heavenly time with hurry. To those who possess their souls in patience come the heavenly visions.”
Excerpt From: MacDonald, George. “Unspoken Sermons: Series I., II., and III.” MobileReference, 2010-06-01 09:24:33.168000-04:00. iBooks. 

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Check out this book on the iBooks Store: https://itun.es/us/3qlew.l

Hues of Dreamland

What has been, shall not only be, but is.

     The hues of dreamland, strange and sweet and tender

     Are but hint-shadows of full many a splendour

     Which the high Parent-love will yet unroll

     Before his child’s obedient, humble soul.

     Ah, me, my God! in thee lies every bliss

     Whose shadow men go hunting wearily amiss. 
~George MacDonald

Visions of a True Man

Image result for painting, service to others

 

We have seen that the moment whatever goes by the name of truth comes into connection with man; the moment that, instead of merely mirroring itself in his intellect as a thing outside of him, it comes into contact with him as a being of action; the moment the knowledge of it affects or ought to affect his sense of duty, it becomes a thing of far nobler import; the question of truth enters upon a higher phase, looks out of a loftier window. A fact which in itself is of no value, becomes at once a matter of life and death–moral life and death, when a man has the choice, the imperative choice of being true or false concerning it.

~ George MacDonald, Unspoken Sermons

 

“When the truth, the heart, the summit, the crown of a thing, is perceived by a man, he approaches the fountain of truth whence the thing came, and perceiving God by understanding what is, becomes more of a man, more of the being he was meant to be. In virtue of this truth perceived, he has relations with the universe undeveloped in him till then. But far higher will the doing of the least, the most insignificant duty raise him. He begins thereby to be a true man. A man may delight in the vision and glory of a truth, and not himself be true. The man whose vision is weak, but who, as far as he sees, and desirous to see farther, does the thing he sees, is a true man. If a man knows what is, and says it is not, his knowing does not make him less than a liar.

 

The man who recognizes the truth of any human relation, and neglects the duty involved, is not a true man.

The man who knows the laws of nature, and does not heed them, the more he teaches them to others, the less is he a true man. But he may obey them all and be the falsest of men, because of far higher and closer duties which he neglects. The man who takes good care of himself and none of his brother and sister, is false. A man may be a poet, aware of the highest truth of a thing, of that beauty which is the final cause of its existence; he may draw thence a notion of the creative loveliness that thought it out; he may be a man who would not tell a lie, or steal, or slander–and yet he may not be a true man, inasmuch as the essentials of manhood are not his aim: having nowise come to the flower of his own being, nowise, in his higher degree, attained the truth of a thing–namely, that for which he exists, the creational notion of him–neither is he striving after the same. There are relations closer than those of the facts around him, plainer than those that seem to bring the maker nigh to him, which he is failing to see, or seeing fails to acknowledge, or acknowledging fails to fulfil.

 

Man is man only in the doing of the truth, perfect man only in the doing of the highest truth, which is the fulfilling of his relations to his origin.

Excerpt From: George MacDonald. “Unspoken Sermons: Series I., II., and III.” iBooks. https://itun.es/us/3qlew.l

Fair Realities

Some things wilt thou not one day turn to dreams?

Some dreams wilt thou not one day turn to fact?

The thing that painful, more than should be, seems,

Shall not thy sliding years with them retract—

Shall fair realities not counteract?

The thing that was well dreamed of bliss and joy—

Wilt thou not breathe thy life into the toy?
~George MacDonald

Perfect Rest

As to our mothers came help in our birth—

Not lost in lifing us, but saved and blest—

Self bearing self, although right sorely prest,

Shall nothing lose, but die and be at rest

In life eternal, beyond all care and dearth.

God-born then truly, a man does no more ill,

Perfectly loves, and has whate’er he will.
—George MacDonald 

Everywhere, Thou… Shining

“Everywhere,Thou art shining through the air;

Every atom from another

Takes thee, gives thee to his brother;

Continually,

Thou art falling on the sea,

Bathing the deep woods down below,

Making the sea-flowers bud and blow;

Silently,

Thou art working ardently,

Bringing from the night of nought

Into being and to thought;

Influences

Every beam of thine dispenses,

Powerful, varied, reaching far,

Differing in every star.

Not an iron rod can lie

In circle of thy beamy eye,

But thy look doth change it so

That it cannot choose but show

Thou, the worker, hast been there;

Yea, sometimes, on substance rare,

Thou dost leave thy ghostly mark

In what men do call the dark.

Doer, shower, mighty teacher!

Truth-in-beauty’s silent preacher!

Universal something sent

To shadow forth the Excellent!
All things most excellent

Are likened unto thee, excellent thing!

Yea, He who from the Father forth was sent,

Came the true Light, light to our hearts to bring;

The Word of God, the telling of His thought;

The Light of God, the making-visible;

The far-transcending glory brought

In human form with man to dwell;

The dazzling gone; the power not less

To show, irradiate, and bless;

The gathering of the primal rays divine,

Informing chaos, to a pure sunshine!
Death, darkness, nothingness!

Life, light, and blessedness!”
George MacDonald