This is what I was thinking about last January, this season when hearts can feel weak in spirit. I found better words than my own in George MacDonald's A Book of Strife in the Form of The Diary of an Old Soul, and they are a comfort and encouragement to me again this year.
It seems that the focus of this long poem about his relationship with God is approaching death. And isn't this time of year, when the world of nature is in many ways dead and awaiting resurrection, as good a time as any to meditate on our own death?
To live by the power of Christ's resurrection, we must pray. Nothing could be harder than this, so the fathers all tell us. But the way the poet describes a small breakthrough, a moment of God's life-giving presence, gives testimony to the rich reward if we don't give up.
Sometimes I wake, and, lo! I have forgot,
And drifted out upon an ebbing sea!
My soul that was at rest now resteth not,
For I am with myself and not with thee;
Truth seems a blind moon in a glaring morn,
Where nothing is but sick-heart vanity:
Oh, thou who knowest! save thy child forlorn.
[and then this]
Sometimes, hard-trying, it seems I cannot pray—
For doubt, and pain, and anger, and all strife.
Yet some poor half-fledged prayer-bird from the nest
May fall, flit, fly, perch—crouch in the bowery breast
Of the large, nation-healing tree of life;—
Moveless there sit through all the burning day,
And on my heart at night a fresh leaf cooling lay.