Go, my beloved children . . . .
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4 NIV)
George MacDonald’s December sonnets echo preoccupation with weariness, death, and his longing to be reunited with God and with his children. George and Louisa MacDonald had 11 children, four of whom preceded them in death. All four died of tuberculosis, then known as ‘consumption.’
George himself suffered most of his adult life from consumption. It also claimed the lives of some of their grandchildren. For a family photo and brief history of George and Louisa MacDonald’s children, click here. The site includes listings of all known publications by family members, including plays.
In the last four sonnet-stanzas in December, MacDonald anticipates and longs for reunion with his children. Here’s how he imagines it, beginning with the reading for December 28.
It must be possible that the soul made
Should absolutely meet the soul that makes;
Then, in that bearing soul, meet every other
There also born, each sister and each brother.
Lord, till I meet thee thus, life is delayed;
I am not I until that morning breaks,
Not I until my consciousness eternal wakes.
Again I shall behold thee, daughter true;
The hour will come when I shall hold thee fast
In God’s name, loving thee all through and through.
Somewhere in his grand thought this waits for us.
Then shall I see a smile not like thy last –
For that great thing which came when all was past,
Was not a smile, but God’s peace glorious.
Twilight of the transfiguration-joy,
Gleam-faced, pure-eyed, strong-willed, high-hearted boy!
Hardly thy life clear forth of heaven was sent,
Ere it broke out in a smile, and went.
So swift thy growth, so true thy goalward bent,
Thou, child and sage inextricably blent,
Wilt one day teach thy father in some heavenly tent.
Go, my beloved children, live your life.
Wounded, faint, bleeding, never yield the strife.
Stunned, fallen-awake, arise, and fight again.
Before you victory stands, with shining train
Of hopes not credible until they are.
Beyond morass and mountain swells the star
Of perfect love – the home of longing heart and brain.
George MacDonald, The Diary of an Old Soul, Augsburg Fortress Press 1994 (pp. 127-128). First published as A Book of Strife in the Form of a Diary of an Old Soul, privately published 1880
I wish you God’s peace during this transition from one year to the next. I’ll be taking the next few days off for rest and reflection.
© Elouise Renich Fraser, 30 December 2014