More, Not Less

“Ah, reader! It may be your cloud has not passed, and you scorn to hear it called one, priding yourself that your trouble is eternal. But just because you are eternal, your trouble cannot be. You may cling to it, and brood over it, but you cannot keep it from either blossoming into a bliss, or crumbling to dust. Be such while it lasts, that, when it passes, it shall leave you loving more, not less.”

— George MacDonald, Castle Warlock

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Suffering – the Curative Quality

To regard any suffering with satisfaction, save it be sympathetically with its curative quality, comes of evil, is inhuman because undivine, is a thing God is incapable of. His nature is always to forgive, and just because he forgives, he punishes. Because God is so altogether alien to wrong, because it is to him a heart-pain and trouble that one of his little ones should do the evil thing, there is, I believe, no extreme of suffering to which, for the sake of destroying the evil thing in them, he would not subject them. A man might flatter, or bribe, or coax a tyrant; but there is no refuge from the love of God; that love will, for very love, insist upon the uttermost farthing.

– George MacDonald, Unspoken Sermons

The key is that the treatment is medicinal. There is no medicine a parent would withhold from his child, who is dying of cancer. A extreme treatment or cure would be preferable to the loss of the life of the child. But the good news is that we ourselves can be a part of that treatment, and begin to work alongside it, and so lessen the need for the severity of the curative tonics. And when we are on board, and know that the treatment (pain, or consequences of our erroneous actions) is for the healing of our souls, then we can consent to the treatment plan, and it will be less painful. Knowledge and understanding changes so much- it makes the agonies easier to bear.

– Watergirl

God Suffers With His Creatures

“They killed him, you know, my lady, in a terrible way that one is afraid even to think of. But he insisted that he laid down his life; that he allowed them to take it. Now I ask whether that grandest thing, crowning his life, the yielding of it to the hand of violence, he had not learned also from his Father. Was his death the only thing he had not so learned? If I am right, and I do not say if in doubt, then the suffering of those terrible three hours was a type of the suffering of the Father himself in bringing sons and daughters through the cleansing and glorifying fires, without which the created cannot be made the very children of God, partakers of the divine nature and peace. Then from the lowest, weakest tone of suffering, up to the loftiest pitch, the divinest acme of pain, there is not one pang to which the sensorium of the universe does not respond; never an untuneful vibration of nerve or spirit that thrills beyond the brain or the heart of the sufferer to the brain, the heart of the universe; and God, in the simplest, most literal, fullest sense, and not by sympathy alone, suffers with his creatures.”

—George MacDonald, ‘The Marquis of Lossie.’

Thou Knowest All

THOU art of this world, Christ. Thou know’st it all;
Thou know’st our evens, our morns, our red and gray;
How moons, and hearts, and seasons rise and fall;
How we grow weary plodding on the way;
Of future joy how present pain bereaves,
Rounding us with a dark of mere decay,
Tossed with a drift Of summer-fallen leaves.

Thou knowest all our weeping, fainting, striving;
Thou know’st how very hard it is to be;
How hard to rouse faint will not yet reviving;
To do the pure thing, trusting all to thee;
To hold thou art there, for all no face we see;
How hard to think, through cold and dark and dearth,
That thou art nearer now than when eye-seen on earth.

Have pity on us for the look of things,
When blank denial stares us in the face.
Although the serpent mask have lied before,
It fascinates the bird that darkling sings,
And numbs the little prayer-bird’s beating wings.
For how believe thee somewhere in blank space,
If through the darkness come no knocking to our door?

If we might sit until the darkness go,
Possess our souls in patience perhaps we might;
But there is always something to be done,
And no heart left to do it. To and fro
The dull thought surges, as the driven waves fight
In gulfy channels. Oh! victorious one,
Give strength to rise, go out, and meet thee in the night.

Wake, thou that sleepest; rise up from the dead,
And Christ will give thee light.” I do not know
What sleep is, what is death, or what is light;
But I am waked enough to feel a woe,
To rise and leave death. Stumbling through the night,
To my dim lattice, O calling Christ! I go,
And out into the dark look for thy star-crowned head.

– George MacDonald.

“A Book of Strife in the Form of The Diary of an Old Soul.”

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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