Lent Day 20 – (17 for me – for real this time)

If you want a really foolproof way to get yourself up in the morning, leave your alarm clock in your pants and then throw your pants on the floor at the foot of your bed.

I think the alarm must have gone off for fifteen seconds before I got my phone out – grabbing for my pants in the dark, proving in vain for the left hand pocket.  I was so tired that I would have gone back to bed if I hadn’t been so embarrassed about letting the alarm go off for so long.  So I went downstairs and snoozed in an armchair for a little while.  I would have gone on the couch but we’re taking care of my sister-in-law’s dog and she was sleeping on the couch.  It just didn’t seem very nice to push a sleeping animal off the couch so that I could use it.

I also discovered that I lost track of where I was in Lent.  I just realized that I skipped day 10!  So my titles have been off by one for a week and a half.  I’m not sure if I should go back and correct them or if I should just leave it.  I think I’ll leave it as a testament to my bad copy-editing.

My son and I have been reading through some George MacDonald books in the last couple of months.  We started with The Princess and the Goblin and now we’re into the Princess and Curdie.  If you’re not familiar with these books, they are well worth the read.  The prose can be difficult at times – it’s almost 150 years old, but if you like the spiritual allegory in C. S. Lewis, then MacDonald is a must-read.

It’s most certainly a reflection of a different time, and much has changed since then, but I find in his books a lack of cynicism that is so refreshing.  The characters have their flaws but they’re from a different era and there is an innocence and a virtue in them that I don’t think you would see in a book written these days.  Now that I start to reflect on books written today, I’m realizing that I don’t actually read very much children’s literature written these days, so I really should limit my commentary on it.

It might be that the characters don’t resemble any of the people that I generally meet these days.  The more I think of it, the more I’m beginning to think that the way they speak to one another is a big part of it.  There’s no sarcasm.  It’s a simpler way of speaking.  All the influence of years and years of television and film characters, and their humour has yet to penetrate their consciousness.

As we were reading through tonight there was a scene where the main character and his father encounter the divine wisdom character – the great-great-grandmother, an ancient and mysterious woman who appears in many different forms and shines light into darkness in more ways than one, giving direction and guidance to our heroes.

The way that MacDonald uses his stories to talk about God in an indirect, and yet very clear way inspires me.  It made me think about my post last night and how this period of time in my life when I am wrestling with uncertainty and hoping for a breakthrough in my work presents me with a great opportunity.

If I can learn to let go of outcomes and pour myself into the process without worrying about where I’m going or how it’s going to turn out at this point, I can learn and experience what it means and what it feels like to trust God and to follow his leading.  (I should point out that I think my wife tried to say this to me last night but I don’t think I heard her very well – sorry hon!)  It’s such an intangible thing, this act of putting trust in the divine – I feel like I’ve grasped it completely one moment only to doubt it the next.  I feel like I’m enveloped in the love of God one day only to feel distant and down the next.

MacDonald captures this so beautifully in the character of the great-great-grandmother.  It’s as if he is saying, “This is real!  Faith is real, but hang on because you’re going to be talking yourself out of it, the day after tomorrow.”  The way he does it is so lovely.

I have such a hard time talking about faith and about the reality of God in my life and how it impacts me.  Whenever I begin to do it I am often dismayed to find that it sounds hollow to me – it sounds to me like the words of someone who is working too hard to convince someone else of things unseen.  But the words of MacDonald inspire me to believe that it can be done.  There is a way to capture the unseen and the spiritual with words.

God, if I could do that, even a little bit, through all this, then I would be a happy man indeed.


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