Back of the North Wind

Discussions of theology, philosophy, religion and life inspired by the writings of George MacDonald (and perhaps others such as CS Lewis) posted by "recovering fundamentalists".

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Location: California, United States

I am a "recovering fundamentalist". The trick is to figure out how not to throw out the Baby with the bathwater. I learn through dialogue, and so invite commentary on my posts to Back of the North Wind.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Strength for the Day, Courage for the Moment

Yes, I know I've been absent. I only blog when I've been reading MacDonald, and for the last couple of months, I've been parenting and knitting instead of reading and blogging. So tonight, perhaps inspired by some of the meditations I've read about the life of the Pope, I picked up where I left off in George MacDonald's, The Seaboard Parish, and came across this quote, describing the situation where the main character has climbed a steep hill to some ruins, and is looking back whence he came:

Any path seems more difficult in looking back than at the time when the difficulties themselves have to be met and overcome.

This is reminiscent of, but a little different from, CS Lewis in The Screwtape Letters, where Lewis suggests that one is only given strength to deal with the trial of the present moment, rather than strength to deal with all possible (and most likely, contradictory) future trials simultaneously. Often, Lewis points out, the present trial for which one needs strength is the anxiety which comes from the uncertainty about which trial one is going to face in the future.

This past weekend I was clearing out some old files from my graduate school / post-doc days, and was impressed with some of the work I had done back then. "How on earth did I manage all that?" I guess it's an example of GMD's principle described above. I don't know how I did it, but I did whatever I had to do at the time. I don't know if I could go through that again. And that's really what GMD is talking about: re-treading a difficult path. So he really is saying the same thing as Lewis.

Happily (and contradictory to some angst nightmares I have!) I don't have to go through it all again. But if I did, I would find the necessary strength for each day, and the courage for each moment.

Meanwhile I try to remind myself, when it seems like I'm too busy: we all each live 60 seconds (only) every minute. It's just a matter of choice about what to do during each of those 60 seconds. My seconds have been spent elsewhere than the blogosphere for the past few months, but I intend to try to visit a little more often.