“Give me a world. . . .”
December. Time to feel eagerly impatient. Eager to escape the weariness, the heaviness of waiting to be set free. To discover new life that’s been incubating all these years. Surely you’ve been there, too? Or are? I am.
George MacDonald’s sonnets for December 12 and 13 describe his imagined new life on the one hand, and what God prefers on the other.
In the sonnets leading up to 12 and 13, MacDonald starts out patient, calm, serene and relaxed, knowing God hasn’t finished with him yet. On December 7 he says,
I will be quiet as lark upon the sod;
God’s will, the seed, shall rest in me the pod.
Then, on the 8th day of December, he begins to imagine what his new God-willed life will look like. His vision grows increasingly glorious, as does his jubilation at leaving behind all things that weigh him down.
By December 11 he foresees a future of direct access to God whereby the smallest things of creation are magnified and magnificent–beyond anything the grandest orchestra might offer of joy or thunderous praise. He imagines an immediate “window” through which God becomes both visible and accessible, and all things become possible!
Then shall I live such an essential life
That a mere flower will then to me unfold
More bliss than now grandest orchestral strife–
By love made and obedience humble-bold,
I shall straight through its window God behold.
God, I shall feed on thee, thy creature blest
With very being—work at one with sweetest rest.
What could be better? And so we come to December 12 and 13:
Give me a world, to part for praise and sunder.
The brooks be bells; the winds, in caverns dumb,
Wake fife and flute and flageolet and voice;
The fire-shook earth itself be the great drum;
And let the air the region’s bass out thunder;
The fire be violins; the reeds hautboys;
Rivers, seas, icebergs fill the great score up and under!
But rather dost thou hear the blundered words
Of breathing creatures; the music-lowing herds
Of thy great cattle; the soft-bleating sheep;
O’erhovered by the trebles of thy birds,
Whose Christ-praised carelessness song-fills the deep;
Still rather a child’s talk who apart doth hide him,
And make a tent for God to come and sit beside him.
In the end, MacDonald comes back to himself as he is:
Thou hast made me, statue-like, hewn in the rough.
Meaning at last to shape me perfectly.
Lord, thou hast called me forth. I turn and call on thee.
God wants my “blundered words,” my girl-child talk, and a seat inside my little tent where I’ve left space for God to come and sit alongside me. That’s all. Enough for God, and enough for me.
© Elouise Renich Fraser, 17 December 2014
George MacDonald, The Diary of an Old Soul, Augsburg Fortress Press 1994
First published as A Book of Strife in the Form of a Diary of an Old Soul, privately published 1880