Thursday, May 01, 2008

White-Robed Sorrow

I wrote once about George MacDonald's book, _Phantastes_. My life was a chaotic whirlpool of grief and throbbing wounds at the time, and being the non-linear, analytical thinker that I am, MacDonald's fantastic worlds and seemingly random images of beauty, love, grief and the like touched me so deeply. Today I ran across one of the passages which meant the most to me, and I wrote the following about it to my husband:

"There's this scene where [the narrator and main character of the story] is floating along in a boat, making his way down river, and he catches a glimpse of a woman in white running through the woods alongside him. She stays with him right up to the castle. It was, for me, an image of the wounds we receive being faithful to lead us on to something else if we let them- to redemption I guess, cliche though that may sound. But one certainly cannot see it as such when the wounds are fresh and throbbing.

That scene in the book is a gift to me, because the character, and therefore the reader, is given a moment to stand back from the pain and view it somewhat objectively. To see the very thing that wounds us running along beside us in white, weeping for us, leading us on to redemption, is so very beautiful. I remember, though, that it made my heart ache for the woman in the woods. She was just a metaphor for other things, but I guess I think of her as almost a part of ourselves- the part that is wounded and has been lost in so many ways, and cannot completely enter into the joy of the present."

I need to go back and read that book again.

"As in all sweetest music, a tinge of sadness was in every note. Nor do we know how much of the pleasures even of life we owe to the intermingled sorrows. Joy cannot unfold the deepest truths, although deepest truth must be deepest joy. Cometh white-robed Sorrow, stooping and wan, and flingeth wide the doors she may not enter. Almost we linger with Sorrow for very love."

George MacDonald, Phantastes

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George MacDonald

"Home is ever so far away in the palm of your hand, and how to get there it is of no use to tell you. But you will get there; you must get there; you have to get there. Everybody who is not at home, has to go home."

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