As I’ve mentioned, the Artscroll Tehillim (Psalms) and George MacDonald’s Diary of an Old Soul are my steady morning companions. If I fail to start the day with these, the day itself seems to lose its hue. So yesterday, February 28, was NOT a leap year. However, it did afford me a double portion of MacDonald since he includes a 366th poem to cover February 29. And it’s a doozy:
Gather my broken fragments to a whole
As these four quarters make a shining day.
Into thy basket, for my golden bowl,
Take up the things that I have cast away
In vice or indolence or unwise play.
Let mine be a merry, all-receiving heart
But make it a whole, with light in every part.
Not to be outdone, MacDonald gifts us with a little poem snippet to kick off each new month. Here is the gem for March.
What if thou make us able to make like thee—
To light with moons, to clothe with greenery,
To hang gold sunsets o’er a rose and purple sea!
The V’ahavta says “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your understanding and strength.” With all your talent, expertise, knowledge, skill, experience, wisdom, power, and stamina. What does that look like?
First glance? A lot of striving. A goal-oriented adventurer would see a challenge. A road-weary traveler would see another barrier to success. Here’s the thing—MacDonald’s poetry (not to mention all his other writing) is so hot because he talks about just that. Our broken efforts can be remade, our souls can be remade right here in this life by the One who created us in the first place.
Because God alone can give us a heart that can love like that, “with light in every part.” It’s not something we achieve ourselves by some magic or extreme effort. And it’s not something we fail to pull off because we’re such spiritual losers. Nobody wins the Love Lottery by chance. God has a cosmic basket full of winning numbers—he showers them down like rain day and night. They’re in the air we breathe. How do we get one?
This sounds so Pollyanna-ish. I know. I’ve been accused of that many times. But consider the possibility for a second. What if go-getters stopped trying so hard to redesign themelves with new diets, new skills, new resolutions, and new goals? What if the more reluctant and circumspect of us let go of our skepticism to embrace a foundational shift? The two ends of the behavior pendulum are identical in this one thing—we both believe that success or failure comes from within us.
And we’d be right in a sense—it does, but not the way we suppose. The elusive answer we pursue, or avoid thinking about, is as simple as pie. Ask for a heart that loves, and then love your God with all of it. This pie is delicious. This lottery is generous. We are invited to a sky-painting party.