What We Learn From Those Who Have Gone On

I have a tendency to pre-grieve the loss of my loved ones. Granted, there is not much sense in that, and it brings on premature sadness, when the sadness of the actual loss is sure to be of a much deeper color, unrehearsable.

George MacDonald lost two of his children to childhood diseases, back when that was much more the norm. I suspect sharing such a momentous loss with so many other parents takes precious little of the pain away. He writes, in his March 14 entry:

Oh, my beloved, gone to heaven from me!
I would be rich in love to heap you with love;
I long to love you, sweet ones, perfectly—
Like God, who sees no spanning vault above,
No earth below, and feels no circling air—
Infinitely, no boundary anywhere.
I am a beast until I love as God doth love.

To me, this turns grief on its head, in a way. If I had lost those babies, I would probably be in a mental ward somewhere, or desperately driven to fill up all my time with volunteering and working—anything to keep the pain away. Yet here, MacDonald confesses that even the devotion and tenderness he has for his children is no better than a beast’s compared to the love of God, the perfect, infinite love of God.

And isn’t it true that our idea of our love and our loved ones is infinitely perfect, but the reality of our love is cut from a blighted cloth—instinctual, unwise, shortsighted, possessive, agonized? I suspect those who have gone on to be with God know the difference. I wonder if they watch our struggles to love with fond, pitying eyes.

Christian, Jewish, George MacDonald, love, loss, death, grief, God

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