//sehnsucht

CW1

(I meant to write about something entirely different when I started this post. I meant to describe what my new job was like, how adjusting my writing/blogging schedule is taking more time than expected. I planned to discuss life and people and bravery and my current reads, and how I can’t wait to star-gaze on summer night again. 

I certainly didn’t mean to share about my deepest longing. And it’s frightening to bare so much of my soul… but I promised myself that I would be brave.)

I’m thinking about words tonight.

Not just words that give me chills from their beauty–like petrichor or enchanté or apricity or scrumptious or paralianand not just quotes that taste right.

“The heart of man is very much like the sea, it has its storms, its tides and its depths; it has its pearls too.” — Vincent Van Gogh

You know what it’s like to have words bottled up tight inside you? To feel something so deeply you don’t know how to express it no matter how hard you try? To have that soul-hunger and not be able to find a way to describe it?

I have many things on my mind right now—all gossamer, fluttering images that dash away when I reach out to grasp them. A friend told me this deep ache, this feeling of something beautiful, something rich and powerful that you can’t see even though it seems just there on the horizon—she said it is Sehnsucht.

Sehnsucht.

“yearning; wistful longing.”

C.S. Lewis describes it as a “desire for our proper place.” He says: “At present we are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door. We discern the freshness and purity of morning, but they do not make us fresh and pure. We cannot mingle with the splendours we see.”

And you know what? It hurts. It’s not easy to talk about, not easy to share about, because it’s a feeling, an emotion, that runs so deep. This longing for home; this yearning for perfect beauty, perfect joy, perfect companionship with our Creator is engrained in our souls and it hurts.

I miss Heaven. I miss unblemished, perfect beauty. I miss unmarred, pure, unbridled joy and I’ve only ever caught tiny, fractured glimpses of it.

A smile on a stranger’s face, a giggle from a tiny baby, the smell of coffee, the sharp black silhouettes of trees against the deep blue of an evening sky, a bird chirping, a tight, never-let-you-go hug from my brother, a flash of vivid colour, the clink of heeled boots on a wooden floor, teardrops from the sky splashing against glass panes, the feel of satin, the smell of rain, books that make me cry, tranquil moments, laughing so hard your chest aches, train whistles at night, cider or hot chocolate so burning hot it makes you cough, flaming sunsets, flannel shirts, catching fireflies.

Sometimes Sehnsucht only brushes its fingers over my soul. Sometimes it’s too deep for even tears to relieve. Often it’s too much, too impossible to describe.

Sometimes beauty burns with its sharpness.

Sometimes I have to look away because the sense of wonder is too great.

Why does it hurt so much? I’m still dust, still incomplete–only just able to see a fleeting glimpse beyond the tapestry before it slips back in place again. And I ache for the day when I can see clearly.

Sehnsucht.

“Apparently, then, our lifelong nostalgia, our longing to be reunited with something in the universe from which we now feel cut off, to be on the inside of some door which we have always seen from the outside, is no mere neurotic fancy, but the truest index of our real situation. And to be at last summoned inside would be both glory and honour beyond all our merits and also the healing of that old ache.”

— C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

Further Reading: creaking floorboards — Elizabeth Kirkwood | a sudden flash of Sehnsucht — Danielle Carey | flickering lights — Elizabeth Kirkwood

(Out of the blue, while I was typing this, someone texted me verses from First Thessalonians chapter four–the ones all about the voice of the archangel and the second coming. Verse 17 ends like this: “and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” Somehow that captures everything I am feeling.)

19 thoughts on “//sehnsucht

  1. Annie. This is so beautiful. I am overwhelmed with the absolute gorgeousness of this entire post – your writing, C.S. Lewis’s writing, the concept of sehnsucht (which I now realize I experience SO OFTEN), it’s all so beautiful.
    ❤ ❤ ❤

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  2. Beautiful post, Annie. I have felt this way all my life, and my sister and I have had discussions on this very subject talking about those quotes of C.S. Lewis’s. I know what you mean about that passage from First Thessalonians…it has always given me that feeling, and when I read it, it’s the closest I ever get to having that feeling satisfied. Thank you for a wonderful post. It was a good way to start the day. ❤

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  3. I love the word Sehnsucht! Fun fact-in German, “sehnen nach” means to long or to deeply hunger for something (not food though), and “Sucht” actually means an addiction! So you could translate it as an addiction to longing, which I find fascinating-that this hunger for the searching, striving emotion is engrained so deeply in our natures. One of God’s many ways of pointing us back to Him! ❤

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  4. Beautiful post. I didn’t know the word sehnsucht until I read your post. I know the feeling you describe. It’s one I’ve felt and desired often. God’s put eternity in man’s heart, and we will be restless for heaven and for Him until we see Him face to face. Thank you for sharing. 🙂

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  5. I believe this is what writing is. The curing of the sehnsucht. Sitting down with a pen & whispering to oneself: “oxygen is not enough.”

    I am always yearning. But the writing is a cure, of sorts.

    Thank you for sharing, my love.

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  6. Annie, this post. This post is beautiful. And so so accurate to that hurt, that pain and yearning as you described it, that Sehnsucht! Thank you for sharing and being honest and baring that part of your soul. Yes, I miss Heaven too, I miss my Heavenly Home. . . and isn’t it wonderful, though, that the closer and deeper we walk with our Lord Jesus, the more we find our Home in Him, and the more the things of this earth loose their shine and glitter. Heaven grows closer to the soul.

    Thanks for sharing those quotes too – they’re wonderful!

    Love you, dear!

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  7. P.S. I highly recommend you read/listen to the full article/book of “Weight of Glory”; I heard it read/narrated so powerfully in the church that C.S. Lewis actually preached that message, St. Virgin Mary Church in Oxford. It was so so powerful!

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  8. What a lovely post, Annie. I, too, am familiar with that ache. But when you speak of those glimpses you get- as well as that quote from Lewis- I was reminded of a song I’ve been holding dear of late. Have you heard “Daylight” by JJ Heller? I think it fits perfectly, describing that longing and seeking in this world, but also how we’ve been given our portion for this time of “sehnsucht”.

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  9. I really appreciated this post! You captured the feeling of Sehnsucht beautifully. This longing, this want for something more is hard to describe, and sometimes it’s easy to dismiss. We have it for a reason though – to draw us closer to our creator, I think I needed to be reminded of that today. So thanks for the great post! 🙂

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  10. I’m a little late coming to the conversation, but wow, this is beautiful. Thank you for putting a word to that deep longing — I can relate to this so well.

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