Under the Greenwood Tree

I have just read Thomas Hardy’s Under the Greenwood Tree. I first tried it 19 years ago and could not get into it, but, noting the three pounds fifty I paid for the volume, I was determined to get my money's worth and had another go. It is singularly less depressing and melancholic than some of his other works and I was thoroughly charmed by his rustic characters. They respond with dignity when the new young vicar dismisses the choir for a new-fangled organ.

Geoffrey Day, a game keeper, is here remarking that his second wife, a rather distant woman, has made excuses about not attending her stepdaughter’s wedding:

Geoffrey: "Claning out all the upstairs drawers and cupboards, and dusting the second-best chainey--a thing that's only done once a year. 'If there's work to be done I must do it,' says she, 'wedding or no.'"

William: "'Tis my belief she's a very good woman at bottom."

Geoffrey: "She's terrible deep, then."

Such good dialogue made me laugh so loud, colleagues in the staffroom turned around to detect the reason.

Often we perceive flaws in the characters of others. Sometimes, we make excuses for it. Other times, we magnify them, for by putting down another, we think we raise ourselves. Paul admonishes the Ephesians in chapter 4:

…Put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.

We are to look to Christ and His character. In His brightness, our own blemishes are seen more clearly and others’ more modestly hidden. Only by His Spirit do they diminish, as we become more like Him. The cross of Calvary was neither green nor pleasant, but under it must we sit if we are to be purified and cleansed. 

Image by Łukasz Winiarski from Pixabay