The Resolution

The resolution to rise which had glowed in him even as a dawdling boy, when he gazed at Gads-hill, which had been darkened but not quite destroyed by his fall into the factory routine, which had been released again by his return to normal boyhood and the boundaries of school, was not likely to content itself now with the copying out of agreements. He set to work, without any advice or help, to learn to be a reporter. He worked all day at law, and all night at shorthand. It is an art which can only be effected by time, and he had to effect it by overtime. But learning the thing under every disadvantage, without a teacher, without the possibility of concentration or complete mental force without ordinary human sleep, he made himself one of the most rapid reporters then alive. There is a curious contrast between the casualness of the mental training to which his parents and others subjected him and the savage seriousness of the training to which he subjected himself. Somebody once asked old John Dickens where his son Charles was educated. “Well, really,” said the great creature, in his spacious way, “he may be said — ah — to have educated himself.” He might indeed.

–Charles Dickens, by G. K. Chesterton


So Chained

“So bound in selfishness am I, so chained,

I know it must be glorious to be free

But know not what, full-fraught, the word doth mean.

By loss on loss I have severely gained

Wisdom enough my slavery to see;

But liberty, pure, absolute, serene,

No freëst-visioned slave has ever seen.”

George MacDonald, The Diary of an Old Soul

How interesting that the things we feel are chains that bind are often our very gateways to freedom… Why is it always said we must die to live? And that he that would rule many must first learn to serve? Any kind of self discipline is like this. The process of the discipline is hard, and often we don’t see the good fruits of our labors for years after. But once we are there at the end of the day, with our labors so laid out we can see them in hindsight, our heart finds peace and joy at the wonderful outcome of our long labors.

Conversely, some of the things we hardly feel as binding at all, but really appear to us as “freedoms,” grow up stealthily from the tiny threads of whim, to chains of steel about our necks- chains that would choke out the very life and spirit of our own souls. And these we do not hardly recognize at first sight, and in the end once their weight is felt, we are drugged so by their poison that we cannot hardly even rouse ourselves to seek deliverance.

It is truly said that things are not always as they appear, and some deeper sight is necessary to finding the truth in life, and the joy of existence.

I Must Be Pure

Keep me from wrath, let it seem ever so right:

My wrath will never work thy righteousness.

Up, up the hill, to the whiter than snow-shine,

Help me to climb, and dwell in pardon’s light.

I must be pure as thou, or ever less

Than thy design of me—therefore incline

My heart to take men’s wrongs as thou tak’st mine.

Lord, in thy spirit’s hurricane, I pray,

Strip my soul naked—dress it then thy way.

Change for me all my rags to cloth of gold.

Who would not poverty for riches yield?

A hovel sell to buy a treasure-field?

Who would a mess of porridge careful hold

Against the universe’s birthright old?

Excerpt From

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

George MacDonald