Letter from our Interim Moderator

From the Manse,                                                                             Kirkcudbright, July 2021

George MacDonald was a Scottish writer of some note in the nineteenth century. Although largely forgotten today he was, in his own day, as well known as Dickens and Thackeray. He wrote poems, novels, stories for children, fairy stories and fantasies. His work and influence has been acknowledged by writers such as C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien. Throughout all his writings is his message of God as loving Father. He was a great preacher in his day - filling out any church he visited. On occasion instead of a sermon he would read one of his fairy stories from the pulpit.

Here is a poem attributed to him* in which the narrator reflects upon his call to move to the business of the town when his heart yearns for the quiet of the countryside.

“I said, ‘Let me walk in the fields.’
He said, ‘Nay, walk in the town.’
I said, ‘There are no flowers there.’
He said, ‘No flowers, but a crown.’

I said, ‘But the sky is black,
There is nothing but noise and din.’
But he wept as He sent me back,
‘There is more,’ He said, ‘there is sin.’

I said, ‘But the air is thick,
And fogs are veiling the sun.’
He answered, ‘Yet hearts are sick,
And souls in the dark undone.’

I said, ‘I shall miss the light,
And friends will want me, they say.’
He answered me, ‘Choose to-night,
If I am to miss you, or they.’

I cast one look at the fields,
Then set my face to the town.
He said, ‘My child, do you yield?
Will you leave the flowers for the crown?’

Then into His hand went mine,
And into my heart came He,
And I walk in a light divine
The path that I feared to see.”

The poem, of course, speaks for itself. Most of us have choices we have to make when we’d rather not. We want to take the path that keeps us where we are but everything changes whether we will it or not - going into the unknown is daunting and fearful. MacDonald’s enduring message throughout all his writings is that we have a Father in Heaven, a Loving Presence, never far, who will lead us always to himself - all we are asked to do is trust. Trusting is easier when we have friends who share our trust alongside us.

* Although attributed to MacDonald I have not been able to find it in his collected works. It is, however, classic Mac Donald in both style and sentiment.

There is a page about George MacDonald on my where2or3.co.uk website with links.

James Gatherer