"To Mrs. Norman McLeod"

What follows is a letter from George MacDonald to the recently-widowed wife of Norman McLeod, H.M. Chaplain in Scotland and editor of "Good Words for the Young."

My dear Mrs. McLeod,

I almost dread drawing near you with a letter. It seems as if all one could do, was to be silent and walk softly. Yet I would not have you think me heedless of you and your sorrow. And yet again, what is there to say? Comfort, all save what we can draw for ourselves from that eternal heart, is a phantom — a mere mockery. Either one must say and the other must believe that there is ground for everlasting exultation, or comfort is but the wiping of tears that for ever flow.

The sun shines, the wind blows soft, the summer is in the land; but your summer sun and your winter fire is gone, and the world is waste to you. So let it be. Your life is hid with Christ in God, at the heart of all summers — so "comfort thyself" that this world will look by and by a tearful dream fading away in the light of the morning. I do not know how I may bear it when similar sorrow come[s] to myself, but it seems to me now as if the time was so short there was no need to bemoan ourselves, only to get our word done and be ready.

And, dear Mrs. McLeod, if you will not think me presuming, may I not say — Do you not find your spirit drawing yet closer to the great heart that has seemed to leave you for a while? I ask this, because I think the law of the Spirit is really the law of the universe; that as, when the Lord vanished from the sight of his friends, they found him in their hearts, far nearer then than before, so when any one like him departs, it is but, like him, to come nearer in the one spirit of truth and love....

George MacDonald
The Retreat, Hammersmith, London
July 7th, 1872

[excerpted from "An Expression of Character: The Letters of George MacDonald", edited by Glenn Edward Sadler. Eerdmans, 1994. Grand Rapids, MI.]

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