All things are thine | From an Old Soul
Do dragons and lop-winged birds sometimes howl around in your head and emotions? Earlier this week I felt a bit like George MacDonald–caught in ‘darkness dire.’ So where will we find him in today’s sonnet? My comments follow.
Not thine, my Lord, the darkness is all mine—
Save that, as mine, my darkness too is thine:
All things are thine to save or to destroy—
Destroy my darkness, rise my perfect joy;
Love primal, the live coal of every night,
Flame out, scare the ill things with radiant fright,
And fill my tent with laughing morn’s delight.
George MacDonald, Diary of an Old Soul
© 1994 Augsburg Fortress Press
MacDonald’s tone changes in this sonnet. He begins coming to terms with his immediate darkness and terror. Until now he’s been in question mode. Not certain what’s going on and why God seems so far away. But now, a tiny crack of light seems to be dawning.
He begins by owning his darkness as his. This isn’t about you Lord, it’s about me. Nonetheless, it hasn’t escaped me that because I’m dealing with you (my Lord!), my darkness is also your darkness. In fact, the power to confront this darkness belongs to you, Lord, not to me.
This change in tone goes along with a change in focus. It seems MacDonald has finally taken charge of his own voice! His voice and his eyes turn in a different direction, even though the darkness dire is still swirling around in his tent.
He speaks directly to his Lord, telling his Lord what to do. He doesn’t hem and haw. He doesn’t beg or apologize for interrupting. He doesn’t pretend it isn’t ‘that important,’ and he doesn’t bargain.
He boldly names what he needs right now from God who is “Love primal, the live coal of every night.”
- Destroy my darkness; resurrect “my perfect joy.” Raise it from the dead!
- Flame out! Like a dragon, send out flames of fire! Give my darkness a taste of its own medicine. Cast on it what it most fears—the light of Your “radiant fright.”
- Then breathe into my tent the sweet light of dawn. Raise up the sun of a new morning, laughing with delight.
I think MacDonald had something like that in mind. Not as a permanent fix, but at least enough to get through this dark night and into a new morning full of delightful promise and mystery.
It seems my Live Coal of every dark night is music. Not just thinking about it, but actually singing or humming it. Hymns come to mind randomly. So do some Psalms. They aren’t all easy to sing. Nonetheless they’re quite wonderful spoken into the darkness.
Though this isn’t magic, it’s real. I’m not God. I’m not “the live coal of every night.”
I am, however, God’s beloved daughter-child, created in the image of God. Perhaps this is my way of telling God what to do. Or at least reminding God directly of what I’m counting on from my Live Coal in the night.
© Elouise Renich Fraser, 23 July 2015