Monday, March 13, 2017

We know not what

C. S. Lewis speaks of something which, in German, is called Sehnsucht. He translates that as the inconsolable longing. It is a wish, says Wikipedia, for we know not what. But we know not what, don't we? And it hurts very deeply, doesn't it?

We want what we cannot on this earth have. We want to be free and brave and bold and happy. We want peace and love; we want there to be no hunger or strife in the world. We want to be with our friends and families always, doing only the good things, the things which will make us truly happy. Simply, we want all the things not fully available in this world.

Lewis takes that a step farther. He argues, quite sensibly, one should think, that we would not have such a feeling if it were not possible that such a feeling could not somehow, someday, be assuaged. We live and love today, in this world, under these circumstances; but it is all so incomplete. Yet we hope there is more. But more than hope; in our hearts, we know there is more.

That is why we so often feel sad even with good things in good times. We're wistful. We have the knowledge that things ought to be better. We know that there has to be a somewhere where things are as they should be. We sense it; we feel it; we are, by a very taut cord, spiritually attached to it. It is there. It has Being.

And we are nonetheless detached from it as long as we live on this world. Therein lies the pain, the yearning; the inconsolable longing. We know that it is possible, indeed, we know that it is likely (if we know anything at all) and true. We know that things are not as they should be. We know that someday it will all be put to right.

If we wish it only because we need a sense of the ideal in order to make it day to day this world, and nothing more, then our actions are vain. Only if things will be as they should be in the end can any of our hopes and dreams and fancies of this world have meaning. Pretending is merely a child's game, a fool's errand. Only if we trust that that something better, that more perfect reality, exists, will our labors and sentiments be of value.

The inconsolable longing. It hurts. Hopefully you have it and hurt as well.

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