Give me, take from me, as thou wilt. I learn—
Slowly and stubbornly I learn to yield
With a strange hopefulness. As from the field
Of hard-fought battle won, the victor chief
Turns thankfully, although his heart do yearn,
So from my old things to thy new I turn,
With sad, thee-trusting heart, and not in grief.
–George MacDonald, Diary of an Old Soul
This one struck a chord in my heart when I needed to hear it – thank you, Beth K, for sharing.
– A strange hopefulness…
With sad, thee-trusting heart, and not in grief.
I want to stop saying “How quickly I forget,” and move along to facing the aftermath, and finding a solution. But I feel the forgetfulness is an important component of the issue, so I don’t know if I can leave it out – I feel it is important to remember that I forget. I must remember that I flow in and out of “being,” of consciousness, and the firm knowledge that if I could just remember what I have learned, it would change how I act, what I think, and how I feel. I must remember that there are layers of what I call “me,” different aspects of who I think I am. – Fie, forgetfulness! I will move on with that knowledge in mind, if only for the present moment – and it may be no small gain either, as the present is after all, all I have. – For the present…
A Strange hopefulness – I loved that line. Our hopefulness is strange, is it not? Because we hope in that we see not? Are we not taught to hope when we feel no hope, to hope in spite of hopelessness, and to have hope-fueled courage in the face of danger? And I love the realism that sets George’s philosophy square in the center of reality – there is sadness. That is a fact we’re going to have to deal with. I like that George is not one to shift or varnish or sugar coat that picture – there is an inherent truthfulness and honesty about our situation here, and for me that is an indicator of his capacity to see truth. But he does not leave it hanging alone there either, because it does not reflect the whole of reality, alone. Possibly because in our condition, our thought pattern is so easily shifted and tainted already, with a dark shadow that moves in so quickly and smoothly it is barely even noticed. So he illuminates it with a light that is from above.
With sad, (but) thee-trusting heart, and not in grief.
That places sadness perfectly where it belongs; not alone. Not alone, suffering in the dark, but in the presence of another. That’s the first gentle reminder. Then he softly takes us one step further – thee-trusting heart. Trusting, therefore looking to our father – taking the hand of God, bringing our spirit into his presence, where we can find comfort, and be reminded that we are not alone. And finally, George helps us to reject that spirit that is not of God – not in this place or time: grief. That can almost sound harsh – don’t we need to grieve sometimes? Let’s examine the reason why we are reminded not to grieve. The reason it would be wrong or out of place to grieve in this place, is because although we may have fallen upon hard times, or are momentarily walking in the shadow of darkness, we are not alone. We are not forsaken, and we have one beside us in whom we need to learn to place our trust. How can we grieve in his presence? How grieve, when he is not gone, not dead, when we are not forsaken? We can only grieve if we imagine that he is gone, or if we are not in his presence. Only if we forget the things we have been taught, and were supposed to have learned already. So in a sense, to grieve at this moment, in this place, is to leave (or forget) our knowledge of God, and so to leave our Father in our hearts, and go wandering in the dark on our own. And this idea does not come out of a full understanding of the reality of our situation, but out of partial reasoning, and emotional thinking. We have been told that he will never leave nor forsake us, so it must have been our poor and foolish hearts who did the leaving, who abandoned ship when we thought things were rough, who were faint of heart in the face of difficulty. We have been told that we have a Father who loves us and is actively working to bring all things to a good end, so to choose grief in his presence would be in a sense to reject him. To enter into a state of mind that would exclude the idea and existence of God – that would make him unreal, that would cause us to enter into a different spirit and attitude – that of an orphan, not a son. It is a picture of a lonely and desolate wanderer, not of a child, walking along the winding road – though it be the darkest of them all, but walking by the side of his Father. – That makes all the difference in the world.
Is it possible that we can only be lost when we choose to leave the side of our Father, and let go the grasp we have on this strange hope, this Father-trusting heart? When we choose grief, instead of choosing God? It is an interesting and dangerous predicament to be in, where we can choose or reject the very father of our souls, the creator of our heart, and the only one who has the power to bring us to the good end he created us for in the first place. The one without whom there is no light, no hope, and no salvation, but darkness. And how strange that the choice should lie with us – poor dumb children, who sometimes remember, but mostly forget… It breaks my heart to think of it. How quickly we forget, and how vital that we remember. – Beware lest thou forget the Lord thy God.
But God is greater than my heart, within and without my soul; he is faithful, even when I am not. Even when I choose to let go of his hand, and walk off into the shadows alone, he is there. If we suffer the loneliness and the grief only because we do not remember that we have a father, is the answer not to come back into his presence as often as we remember it, and into the light, and out of the darkness?
In his presence, all things are possible, and it becomes possible to say with the Apostle Paul,
We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;
Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed...
For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;
While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
I may have to walk through the shadows sometimes, but Bear walks beside me.