Never Ending Birth | From an Old Soul
Even though this isn’t the way I want things to be, I’m encouraged by these two sonnets. I can’t say I’ve had any great miraculous spurts of growth when it comes to making my way home.
It’s all been a bit of a slog in the dark. Never certain where I am or which direction I need to take next, yet never quite coming to a full halt or descending into total despair. Sometimes I have flashes of insight or perspective. And then they’re gone as the road takes yet another turn. Never ending birth. That’s what this is about.
Creation thou dost work by faint degrees,
By shade and shadow from unseen beginning;
Far, far apart, in unthought mysteries
Of thy own dark, unfathomable seas,
Thou will’st thy will; and thence, upon the earth—
Slow travelling, its way through centuries winning—
A child at length arrives at never ending birth.
Well mayst thou then work on indocile hearts
By small successes, disappointments small;
By nature, weather, failure, or sore fall;
By shame, anxiety, bitterness, and smarts;
By loneliness, by weary loss of zest:–
The rags, the husks, the swine, the hunger-quest,
Drive home the wanderer to the father’s breast.
George MacDonald, Diary of an Old Soul
Augsburg Fortress Press 1997
This is no heroic, Michelangelo-like vision of creation or of us as created beings. Even so, it seems to reflect accurately how we come to be as we are. If not what we will eventually be.
I want bold creation. Large successes. Vim and vigor. Dramatic change. Immediate feedback. Constant reassurance that I’m on the right track.
But MacDonald celebrates the messy, often dark and mysterious winding way the Creator takes just to give one prodigal life a chance to live and thrive. No speeding highways to heaven. No easy access to rest stops along the way. No guarantee of fair weather.
Instead, many small and large ‘hounds of heaven’ snap at our heels daily; surprise us with blindsided attacks; drain our energy so that we don’t want to go on.
Yet these very things drive us mysteriously, without a map or compass, up one path and down another, around in circles and into dense fogs until at last we’re driven to our home. Driven by forces and fierceness beyond our understanding toward the One who knows us from the inside out and finally welcomes us to the only true Home we’ll ever have.
All things considered, I’d rather be a driven wanderer than a stillborn baby. How about you?
© Elouise Renich Fraser, 21 September 2015