Pure Love Lives by Faith

But pure love lives by faith. It loves the vaguely beheld and unrealized ideal. It dares believe that the loved is not all that she ever seemed. It is in virtue of this that love loves on.

George MacDonald

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Being Such

“Does she never try to teach them any thing, Ethel?” “She is constantly teaching them, whether she tries or not,” I answered. “If you can make any one believe that there is something somewhere to be trusted, is not that the best lesson you can give him? That can be taught only by being such that people cannot but trust you.”

George MacDonald, The Vicar’s Daughter

The Thought of a Thinker

The letters he has left behind him, have waked but poor ideas in poor minds; for words, if they seem to mean anything, must always seem to mean something within the scope of the mind hearing them. Words cannot convey the thought of a thinker to a no-thinker; of a largely aspiring and self-discontented soul, to a creature satisfied with his poverty, and counting his meagre faculty the human standard. Neither will they readily reveal the mind of one old in thought, to one who has but lately begun to think.

-George MacDonald

Thou

Thou art my knowledge and my memory,

No less than my real, deeper life, my love.

I will not fool, degrade myself to trust

In less than that which maketh me say Me,

In less than that causing itself to be.

Then art within me, behind, beneath, above—

I will be thine because I may and must.

Thou art the truth, the life. Thou, Lord, wilt see

To every question that perplexes me.

I am thy being; and my dignity

Is written with my name down in thy book;

Thou wilt care for it. Never shall I think

Of anything that thou mightst overlook:—

In faith-born triumph at thy feet I sink.

Thou carest more for that which I call mine,

In same sort—better manner than I could,

Even if I knew creation’s ends divine,

Rousing in me this vague desire of good.

Thou art more to me than my desires’ whole brood;

Thou art the only person, and I cry

Unto the father I of this my I.

Thou who inspirest prayer, then bend’st thine ear;

It, crying with love’s grand respect to hear!

I cannot give myself to thee aright—

With the triumphant uttermost of gift;

That cannot be till I am full of light—

To perfect deed a perfect will must lift:—

Inspire, possess, compel me, first of every might.

– George MacDonald, Diary of an Old Soul

Love of Our Neighbor

One word more: This love of our neighbour is the only door out of the dungeon of self, where we mope and mow, striking sparks, and rubbing phosphorescences out of the walls, and blowing our own breath in our own nostrils, instead of issuing to the fair sunlight of God, the sweet winds of the universe. The man thinks his consciousness is himself; whereas his life consisteth in the inbreathing of God, and the consciousness of the universe of truth. To have himself, to know himself, to enjoy himself, he calls life; whereas, if he would forget himself, tenfold would be his life in God and his neighbours. The region of man’s life is a spiritual region. God, his friends, his neighbours, his brothers all, is the wide world in which alone his spirit can find room. Himself is his dungeon. If he feels it not now, he will yet feel it one day—feel it as a living soul would feel being prisoned in a dead body, wrapped in sevenfold cerements, and buried in a stone-ribbed vault within the last ripple of the sound of the chanting people in the church above. His life is not in knowing that he lives, but in loving all forms of life. He is made for the All, for God, who is the All, is his life. And the essential joy of his life lies abroad in the liberty of the All. His delights, like those of the Ideal Wisdom, are with the sons of men. His health is in the body of which the Son of Man is the head. The whole region of life is open to him—nay, he must live in it or perish.

~George MacDonald, Unspoken Sermons

Love is Holy

From George MacDonald’s lecture on ‘King Lear,’ regarding Cordelia’s response when asked to declare her love for her father in

order to inherit a portion of his kingdom:

“She loved her father far too much to be able to tell it out in that fashion. Even the best things she could say would have been as nothing compared with their eager protestations. Love is not to be measured by a dictionary. Love is holy, and loving hearts cannot lay themselves out for the asking. We don’t want to hear our children speak of their love; the look, the manner, the action–these are the language of the heart.”

– George MacDonald

To Understand

“We are all very anxious to be understood, and it is very hard not to be. But there is one thing much more necessary.’

What is that, grandmother?’

To understand other people.’

Yes, grandmother. I must be fair – for if I’m not fair to other people, I’m not worth being understood myself. I see.”

― George MacDonald, The Princess and the Goblin