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

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Summoning Joy

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Do you have the strength to summon joy? Gratitude, sure – that is doable. But joy? A smile in the face of all the darkness? To choose laughter in the face of tears? And yet, it is joy that lifts our spirits to the clouds, when the tendrils of despair would drag us down into the mire, and suffocate us there…

He does all things well – by which I mean, he chooses to do the right thing, in the right way, every time. Do we have the strength to follow? To put ourselves in remembrance, again and again, that this all shall pass, and that he that does the will of the father lives forever? To choose joy, when our hearts would faint and despair? To choose to be strong and conquer, where we would normally react and let go, or break down and cry?

The difference lies in holding on to the knowledge that this time of difficulty and darkness will pass. It lies in remembering that if we are in it, we can win it. And it lies in keeping close to our hearts the knowledge that our father loves us. And that he will not allow one straw more than we can bear – that every challenge and disappointment, every stone thrown our way, if taken the right way, can be used as another building block, another step upon which to rise higher. The challenges are medicinal – a medicine that is not given where not needed, and that when required, will bring us to health, to strength, to sanity, and in the end, to joy.

So let us fight on, and may God grant us that mystery of the laughter of Christian men, that has “Roared through a thousand tales…” May we also stand with the giants of the ages – those “Kings and clowns in a merry plight,” and learn from them how to take ourselves and the difficult situations around us lightly – that like the angels, we too may learn to fly. And in the face of dark and uncertain days, may we “Follow the star that lives and leaps… Follow the fire unfurled For riseth up against realm and rod, a thing forgotten, a thing downtrod, the last lost giant, even God…”

And the earth shook and the King stood still
Under the greenwood bough,
And the smoking cake lay at his feet
And the blow was on his brow.

Then Alfred laughed out suddenly,
Like thunder in the spring,
Till shook aloud the lintel-beams,
And the squirrels stirred in dusty dreams,
And the startled birds went up in streams,
For the laughter of the King.

And the beasts of the earth and the birds looked down,
In a wild solemnity,
On a stranger sight than a sylph or elf,
On one man laughing at himself
Under the greenwood tree—

The giant laughter of Christian men
That roars through a thousand tales,
Where greed is an ape and pride is an ass,
And Jack’s away with his master’s lass,
And the miser is banged with all his brass,
The farmer with all his flails;

Tales that tumble and tales that trick,
Yet end not all in scorning—
Of kings and clowns in a merry plight,
And the clock gone wrong and the world gone right,
That the mummers sing upon Christmas night
And Christmas Day in the morning.

Follow the star that lives and leaps,
Follow the sword that sings,
For we go gathering heathen men,
A terrible harvest, ten by ten,
As the wrath of the last red autumn—then
When Christ reaps down the kings.

Follow a light that leaps and spins,
Follow the fire unfurled!
For riseth up against realm and rod,
A thing forgotten, a thing downtrod,
The last lost giant, even God,
Is risen against the world.

~ The Ballad of the White Horse

And Colan’s eyes with mystery
And iron laughter stirred,
And he spoke aloud, but lightly
Not labouring to be heard.

“Oh, truly we be broken hearts,
For that cause, it is said,
We light our candles to that Lord
That broke Himself for bread.

~ The Ballad of the White Horse

But some see God like Guthrum,
Crowned, with a great beard curled,
But I see God like a good giant,
That, labouring, lifts the world.

~ The Ballad of the White Horse

Atlas by Artus Quellinus (1)

~Watergirl 

The Eternal Air

Through all the fog, through all earth’s wintery sighs,

I scent Thy spring, I feel the eternal air,

Warm, soft, and dewy, filled with flowery eyes,

And gentle, murmuring motions everywhere—

Of life in heart, and tree, and brook, and moss;

Thy breath wakes beauty, love, and bliss, and prayer,

And strength to hang with nails upon thy cross.

George MacDonald, Diary of an Old Soul.