by Ben Pykare correspondent
Most of us wander throughout our lives in a thick fog, barely understanding what goes on just before our eyes. Some dare to peer into the mist, to contemplate deep and mysterious truths. A select few find the truth, embrace it with its vastness and mystery and work to communicate it to the world. Poets are chief among those who make up this last group.
George MacDonald (1824-1905) wore many hats throughout his life: pastor, teacher, lecturer, author and poet. Deeply affected by his Lord’s teachings and the wonders of the human imagination, MacDonald spent his life crafting pointed sermons, numerous novels, exciting fairy tales, theological essays and reflective poetry.
He never attained lasting fame, but his life and works influenced such men as C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, Lewis Carroll and J.R.R. Tolkien. His lively imagination inspired the growth and popularization of the fantasy genre as we know it.
While his thoughts tend to stray into universalism, MacDonald serves us today as a man enrapt in the awe-inspiring wonder of his Lord and the life he gives to his children. He presents a thoroughly spiritual perspective on all aspects of life and provides memorable illustrations for the Christian walk.
For the busy Moody student, run ragged by consuming commentaries and scholarly articles, MacDonald’s poetry can be a tool for reorienting and reminding the weary soul about the reality of life with God.
“The Diary of an Old Soul” is a good place to begin. In the midst of losing two of his children, MacDonald put together this collection of 366 seven-line poems, meant to be read daily throughout a year.
These poems are reflective on the glories and difficulties of the faith, and many contain his personal prayers. Rather than devouring this book, it is best sampled daily, or perhaps a few at a time if the prospect of a daily commitment seems too daunting.
Each offering from “The Diary of an Old Soul” is meant to prompt reflection and prayer. The first printing, at MacDonald’s request, included a blank page opposite each page of poetry, intended to be filled with the reader’s responses to the day’s poem. The entire work is available free online.