I haven’t read a ton of George MacDonald, and I know this is to my shame. I recall my parents owning Phantasies, which really didn’t thrill me. I’m not a huge fantasy reader (Does that make me a hipster in today’s world? 😛 )
My Uncle Glenn lent me a book, and my friend Joey let me borrow a series. They were decent. My favorite was one about a boy named Cosmo in some sort of a castle. I don’t remember much of the story, but I have this remaining sweet feeling in my head, like the remnants of candy on one’s tongue. I remember loving the heart of the romance in that one.
However, it’s been many years.
Little did I know George MacDonald wrote allegories and moralistic stories. These things usually hit me right between the eyes, and explain my spiritual state in new, exciting ways that stick with me easier than lecturing might.
My husband’s mother begged me to read her favorite: The Wise Woman (otherwise known as The Lost Princess), which my sister-in-law had previously given to me. She said the lessons had stuck with her throughout the years, and it was a piercing pleasure to read the story again and again. Pleasure because it was rich with insight. Piercing because it was convicting.
How right she was.
I underlined my favorite quotes, and wanted to share them with you. The one on loving and punishing even brought me to tears, as it helped me understand my Father in heaven better.
As time went on, this disease of self-conceit went on too, gradually devouring the good that was in her. For there is no fault that does not bring its brothers and sisters and cousins to live with it.
But, as I have said, the wise woman had her eye upon her: she saw that something special must be done, else she would be one of those who kneel to their own shadows till feet grow on their knees; then go down on their hands till their hands grow into feet; then lay their faces on the ground till they grow into snouts; when at last they are a hideous sort of lizards, each of which believes himself the best, wisest, and loveliest being in the world, yea, the very centre of the universe. And so they run about forever looking for their own shadows, that they may worship them, and miserable because they cannot find them, being themselves too near the ground to have any shadows; and what becomes of them at last there is but one who knows.
To be conceited of doing one’s duty is then a sign of how little one does it, and how little one sees what a contemptible thing it is not to do it. Could any but a low creature be conceited of not being contemptible? Until our duty becomes to us common as breathing, we are poor creatures.
One great danger is that perhaps you will think you are in (a trial) before it has really begun, and say to yourself, “Oh! This is really nothing to me. It may be a trial to some, but for me I am sure it is not worth mentioning.” And then, before you know, it will be upon you, and you will fail utterly and shamefully.
“Nobody can be a real princess – do not imagine you have yet been anything more than a mock one – until she is a princess over herself… So long as any mood she is in makes her do the thing she will be sorry for when that mood is over, she is a slave, and not a princess.”
“If I had not forgiven you, I would never have taken the trouble to punish you.”