To Know One’s Self

“To know one’s self amid storm and darkness, amid fire and water, amid disease and pain, even during the approach of death, is to be a Christian, for that is how the Master felt in the hour of darkness, because he knew it a fact.”

– 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

The Love that Made the Worlds

You asked for a loving God: you have one…not a senile benevolence that drowsily wishes you to be happy in your own way, not the cold philanthropy of a conscientious magistrate, nor the care of a host who feels responsible for the comfort of his guests, but the consuming fire Himself, the Love that made the worlds, persistent as the artist’s love for his work and despotic as a man’s love for a dog, provident and venerable as a father’s love for a child, jealous, inexorable, exacting as love between sexes.

— C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

Roads Go Ever On

Roads go ever ever on,
Over rock and under tree,
By caves where never sun has shone,
By streams that never find the sea;
Over snow by winter sown,
And through the merry flowers of June,
Over grass and over stone,
And under mountains in the moon.

Roads go ever ever on,
Under cloud and under star.
Yet feet that wandering have gone
Turn at last to home afar.
Eyes that fire and sword have seen,
And horror in the halls of stone
Look at last on meadows green,
And trees and hills they long have known.

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way,
Where many paths and errands meet.

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with weary feet,
Until it joins some larger way,
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

The Road goes ever on and on
Out from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone.
Let others follow, if they can!
Let them a journety new begin.
But I at last with weary feet
Will turn towards the lighted inn,
My evening-rest and sleep to meet.

Still ’round the corner there may wait
A new road or secret gate;
And though I oft have passed them by,
A day will come at last when I
Shall take the hidden paths that run
West of the Moon, East of the Sun.

– J. R. R. Tolkien

The Acknowledgement of Wrong

She never said she was sorry, but she tried to make up for it. Her husband had not taught her the virtue both for relief and purification that lies in the acknowledgement of wrong. To take up blame that is our own, is to wither the very root of it.

— George MacDonald, Paul Faber, Surgeon

On and On

“With all the reminders of death we have about us, not one of us feels as if he were going to die. We think of other people … dying, and it always seems we are going to be alive when they die; and why? Just because we are not going to die. This thinking part in us feels no symptom of ceasing to be. We think on and on, and death seems far from us, for it belongs only to our bodies–not to us. So the soul forgets it. It is no part of religion to think about death. It is the part of religion, when the fact and thought of death come in, to remind us that we live for ever, and that God, who sent His Son to die, will help us through that fearful strait that lies before us, and which often grows so terrible to those who fix their gaze upon it.”

—From George MacDonald’s ‘Guild Court’