“I Knew a Child,” “Spiritual Murder,” and “Impossibilities:” Reflections on G. MacDonald 11-13

I’m quickly falling into the trap of simply compiling entries, instead of reflecting on each one.  Conveniently, however, these three entries all focus on the concept of Forgiveness, on how forgiveness illuminates our relationship with God, and our relationship with each other, and how those relational pairs are inextricably connected.

In “I Knew Child,” MacDonald relates the story of a girl who believed she had committed a sin.  It was a small matter, and the average person would have been quick to say “don’t worry about it.”  MacDonald refutes this position, saying “Dare not to rebuke me for adducing the diseased fancy of a child in a weighty matter of theology.  The child knew, and was conscious that she knew, that she was doing wrong…He would not have told her she was silly , and ‘never to mind.’  Child as she was, might He not have said to her, ‘I do not condemn thee: and go and sin no more’?”

In “Spiritual Murder,” MacDonald surmises that “It may be an infinitely less evil to murder a man than to refuse to forgive him.  The former may be the act of a moment of passion: the latter is the heart’s choice.”  Following closely on this sentiment, “Impossibilities” states “no man who will not forgive his neighbor, can believe that God is willing, yea wanting, to forgive him.”

There are things in my heart that show me I have a long way to go in fully absorbing the ideas MacDonald presents.  And I must remember that when I am wronged, that harbored injury, the longer it remains inside of me, the more distant from God I become.  As Christians, we recognize that every time we come into God’s presence to ask for His forgiveness, we are cleansed.  This is a sacrament that I experience every week at Emmanuel, and a time I try to set before God every night.  But often I do not have that “rise-to-my-feet-I’m-now-white-as-snow” feeling.  Because I know I’m still holding some things back.  So now a part of my prayer has become “Please help me to let go of things that I insist on holding on to,” because it is an “Impossibility” to be close to God and still harbor resentment, anger, strife, or anything that contrasts with the Inexorable Love.

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2 thoughts on ““I Knew a Child,” “Spiritual Murder,” and “Impossibilities:” Reflections on G. MacDonald 11-13

  1. Peace Wandering Tree,

    Wasn’t it Solomon (alaihi al-salam) in Ecclesiastes who said that there’s nothing new under the sun? I wouldn’t worry too much about being a compiler! 🙂

    This is an important post. Forgiveness, and all that it means, is perhaps the quintessential part of religion – if we understand religion as a relationship between human and God, and between humans themselves.

    I can relate to what you say about letting go in prayer. It is very difficult. I claim no special expertise here myself. In point of fact, I claim no special expertise in anything.

    I wrote some thoughts on this topic on my own blog. Here are the links to them:

    http://thecorner.wordpress.com/2008/10/29/an-old-scar/

    http://thecorner.wordpress.com/2008/06/12/did-i-come-to-unite-or-did-i-come-to-sever-some-reflections-on-chaplaincy/

    http://thecorner.wordpress.com/2008/08/01/british-gas-injustice-and-the-appropriate-uses-of-anger/

    Abdur Rahman

  2. Peace be with you Abdur,
    Thank you for your comments and links. Your blog is a wonderful resource! I’ve bookmarked a number of Sufi poetry sites, and look forward to reading them soon. In addition, your post “Did I Come to Unite…” was a great reflection on forgiveness as a way of not only uniting ourselves back to God, but with one another as well. The thought that forgiveness can ultimately be creating that space for others to speak resonates strongly with me. When we create that space, we remove ourselves from the center of our being and give it to others. In the Christian tradition, we are expected to “see the Christ in others.” Christ, when asked by Peter “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?” responds “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.” (Matthew 18: 21-22) The message is clear: as God forgives us, so are we to forgive others.

    Peace be with you!

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