I think it is time I introduced my beloved George MacDonald. Perhaps some of you might be familiar with his children’s literature. I began reading him as a child and have never let up.
MacDonald was born in Scotland in 1824, became a minister, and because of his honesty with his parishioners about what it really means to follow the teachings of Jesus, he was slowly forced out of his parish. Offered a lower and lower salary, as his wife produced more and more offspring, MacDonald was finally forced to retire. I say, thank God for this because it gave him the time and inclination to write. This he did with a fury for the rest of his life, piling up forty novels, many fairy tales, several children’s books and reams of poetry.
My first introduction to him was a book written for children called The Princess and the Goblin, the first of two books about Curdie, the son of a coal miner, who helps to rid his kingdom of goblins. The book is very beautifully written, and captured my heart.
There is a metaphor for God in the book, a mystical grandmother of sorts, which illuminates the ways in which God might work in our lives. I have read the book many times since a child, and memorably revisited it when I went through a particularly painful failure (or so I viewed it) of one of my plays in New York, when I was in my early thirties. Grateful to have my good friend by my side, I was much comforted, and learned to see the experience as instructive, a gift rather than a beating.
I’ve read this book so many times before and since this experience that it has taken up permanent residence on my bedside table.
There is a door, I believe, in each of us, that I will call The Child Door. It’s through this door that the simplest, purest philosophical thought will sometimes enter. This is the door that allows us to welcome truth without the weight of dogma, to begin to remember what we might have known before we came into this life. I hope to write a piece for Listen Well about the wisdom of keeping this door ajar, or if somehow it has been allowed to shut, to attempt to pry it open.
I would recommend, if you wish to invite these simple truths into your life, that you consider reading George MacDonald. You might begin with The Princess and the Goblin, and continue on to his collection of Fairy tales.