The Heart of Stone

…And thus we rust Life’s iron chain

Degraded and alone:

And some men curse, and some men weep,

And some men make no moan:

But God’s eternal Laws are kind

And break the heart of stone.

 

And every human heart that breaks,

In prison-cell or yard,

Is as that broken box that gave

Its treasure to the Lord,

And filled the unclean leper’s house

With the scent of costliest nard.

 

Ah! Happy those whose hearts can break

And peace of pardon win!

How else may man make straight his plan

And cleanse hi soul from Sin?

How else but through a broken heart

May Lord Christ enter in?

 

 

– Oscar Wilde, selection from The Ballad of Reading Gaol

 

I feel this in my bones – I feel that the times my heart is moved to love God the most, it is when my heart breaks for the beauty of the Lord, for the sorrow at the depth of his love, and for the richness of his patience; his eternal kindness and long suffering. I don’t know why I experience this reaction as sorrow or sadness, but that is almost exactly how I feel; I love him most when he breaks my heart. So perhaps there is a truth here; how else may the Lord enter in, unless our hearts break? Perhaps sorrow is our dearest friend, for it opens up our hearts and makes a place to receive his Goodness, his Truth, and his Love.

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Sorrow

There is no evil in sorrow. True, it is not an essential good, a good in itself, like love; but it will mingle with any good thing, and is even so allied to good that it will open the door of the heart for any good.

— George MacDonald

The Giver

“To give a thing and take again

Is counted meanness among men;

Still less to take what once was given

Can be the royal way of heaven!

But human hearts are crumbly stuff,

And never, never love enough;

And so God takes and, with a smile

Puts our best things away awhile.

Some therefore weep, some rave, some scorn;

Some wish they never had been born;

Some humble grow at last and still,

And then God gives them what they will.”

–George MacDonald, The Giver

(Poetical Works, Vol 2, pg 128)

Fill Me With Thyself

‘Lord, come to me,’ he cried in his heart, ‘for I cannot go to thee. If I were to go up and up through that awful space for ages and ages, I should never find thee. Yet there thou art. The tenderness of thy infinitude looks upon me from those heavens. Thou art in them and in me. Because thou thinkest, I think. I am thine–all thine. I abandon myself to thee. Fill me with thyself. When I am full of thee, my griefs themselves will grow golden in thy sunlight. Thou holdest them and their cause, and wilt find some nobler atonement between them than vile forgetfulness and the death of love. Lord, let me help those that are wretched because they do not know thee. Let me tell them that thou, the Life, must needs suffer for and with them, that they may be partakers of thy ineffable peace. My life is hid in thine: take me in thy hand as Gideon bore the pitcher to the battle. Let me be broken if need be, that thy light may shine upon the lies which men tell them in thy name, and which eat away their hearts.’

–George MacDonald, Robert Falconer

Beth-el

Too eager I must not be to understand.

How should the work the master goes about

Fit the vague sketch my compasses have planned?

I am his house—for him to go in and out.

He builds me now—and if I cannot see

At any time what he is doing with me,

‘Tis that he makes the house for me too grand.

—George MacDonald

I Look to Thee

My God, I look to thee for tenderness

Such as I could not seek from any man,

Or in a human heart fancy or plan—

A something deepest prayer will not express:

Lord, with thy breath blow on my being’s fires,

Until, even to the soul with self-love wan,

I yield the primal love, that no return desires.

—George MacDonald, The Diary of an Old Soul

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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