Sehnsucht. Isn’t that a great word?! There’s something kind of soft and gentle and feminine about the first syllable, and that last syllable sounds like something a salty-tongued handyman might shout as he crushes his thumb with a misplaced hammer. It sounds like what it is, really – sweet and painful.
My friend, Charly, introduced me to the word “sehnsucht” for the first time yesterday. I was trying to describe how I was feeling – I said I wasn’t feeling sad, exactly, but that it seemed like lately life has become one long series of good-byes – of loss and separation and endings. I said that I wish I could be with all those people I love – those who have passed on, and those who live far away. I wish I could go on one more hike with Moz and Dad. Visit with Aunt Junie and cousin Julie and cousin Skip again, hear Grandma play the piano, give real hugs to all my friends and family scattered around the globe, and feel their hugs back. And this is when Charly gifted me with the word – “sehnsucht.” Here’s part of what Wikipedia says about “sehnsucht”: “It has been referred to as ‘life’s longings’; or an individual’s search for happiness while coping with the reality of unattainable wishes. Such feelings are usually profound, and tend to be accompanied by both positive and negative feelings.”
Haven’t we all felt these yearnings for… I don’t know… something more? Not for more material stuff, but for more heart-stuff – more understanding maybe, or more patience or wisdom or kindness or love?
Maybe these yearnings have a purpose. Maybe they are a part of what gives us empathy for our fellow beings. Maybe they help impel us towards “peace on earth” and “good will to man” – towards generosity and compassion and honesty. Maybe they help us grow and rise higher in our understanding of “God” – of Life, Truth, and Love.
And if that’s true, then bring on the “sehnsucht”!
Passages from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy –
Higher enjoyments alone can satisfy the cravings of immortal man.
Finite man cannot be the image and likeness of the infinite God. A mortal, corporeal, or finite conception of God cannot embrace the glories of limitless, incorporeal Life and Love. Hence the unsatisfied human craving for something better, higher, holier, than is afforded by a material belief in a physical God and man.
Simply asking that we may love God will never make us love Him; but the longing to be better and holier, expressed in daily watchfulness and in striving to assimilate more of the divine character, will mould and fashion us anew, until we awake in His likeness.