God writes straight with crooked lines.
Hidden Jesus 2
The gods give us for every good thing two evil ones, and men who are children take this badly. But the manly ones bear it, turning the brightness outward.
— Pindar, quoted in Jacques Barzun, The Use and Abuse of Art (1974)
For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light.
— Ephesians 5:8
Remember . . . that it is at the sore place, and only there, that our healing begins. . . .
— Caryll Houselander
I think it is very helpful to reflect that God loves those whom we love, far more than we do — infinitely more.
Oh please let me be, there have to be people like me, too. My realities may be different from what most people call reality, but still they are realities.
— Etty Hillesum
My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me:
And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.
— Luke 11:2–4
O praise the LORD, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people.
For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the LORD endureth for ever. Praise ye the LORD.
— Psalm 117
I keep discovering that there is no causal connection between people’s behavior and the love you feel for them. Love for one’s fellow man is like an elemental glow that sustains you. The fellow man himself has hardly anything to do with it (EH, 8 August 1943). Most people here are much worse off than they need be because they write off their longing for friends and family as so many losses in their lives, when they should count the fact that their heart is able to long so hard and to love so much among their greatest blessings (11 August 1943). I believe we can extract something positive from life under any circumstances. But we have the right to say that only if we do nothing to escape, even from the worst conditions. I often think we should shoulder our rucksacks, join the others, and go “on transport” with them —
Later I'll sing a different tune.
Auf Widersehen, my dear.
Etty (4 November 1942)
And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.
— Luke 10:41–42
This is something people refuse to admit to themselves: at a given point you can no longer do, but can only be and accept. And although that is something I learned a long time ago, I also know that one can only accept for oneself and not for others. And that’s what is so desperately difficult for me here. Mother and Mischa still want to “do,” to turn the whole world upside down, but I know we can’t do anything about it. I have never been able to “do” anything; I can only let things take their course and if need be, suffer. This is where my strength lies, and it is a great strength indeed. But for myself, not for others (Etty Hillesum, 10 July 1943). “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” This is the only attitude that allows you to carry on at Westerbork (EH, July 1943).
Toute relation humaine est une alliance qui, de sa nature, a une dimension d’éternité. Elle est éternelle en ce sens que chaque fois que j’établis une relation avec une personne ou une communauté, quoi qu’il arrive, je ne puis pas supprimer le passé, je ne puis pas faire que cette relation n’ait pas existé. La relation peut changer. L’amour peut se transformer en indifférence et même, malheureusement, en certains cas, en haine. Mais il ne peut pas ne pas avoir existé, et il conserve toutes ses exigences.
Dans notre vie nous contractons constamment de nombreux engagements. Toute relation humaine est un engagement. Chaque infidélité à un engagement de cette nature est un péché contre Dieu — non pas simplement parce que nous avons manqué à une loi ou parce que nous avons rompu un contrat; mais plutôt parce que, lorsque nous sommes infidèles à un engagement, nous essayons d’abroger ce qui, de sa nature, est éternel. Toute relation authentique est une forme d’amour; et l’amour est éternel.
— Armand Veilleux, Le célibat et les exigences de l’amour
“We don’t want to think, we don’t want to feel, we want to forget as soon as possible.” It seems to me this is a very great danger. . . . I believe that for every event, man has a faculty that helps him deal with it. . . . If we abandon the hard facts that we are forced to face, if we give them no shelter in our heads and hearts, do not allow them to settle and change into impulses through which we can grow and from which we can draw meaning . . . then it will not be enough.
. . .
One suddenly realizes that it is not enough to be an able politician or a talented artist. In the most extreme distress, life demands quite other things.
— Etty Hillesum, Letters from Westerbork.
Two Germans on vacation in Italy meet at their modest hotel, discover their common interests, go on long and reverential walks together — in short, delight in each other’s company. On the last evening of their holiday they celebrate their chance encounter with a bottle of vintage wine. One of them says, “This has been so special! I want to tell you something now, in all candor: I’m Jewish.” The other, a Christian, replies, “I, too, want to be equally candid. I’m a hunchback.”2
A pastor and a rabbi are old friends and spent many vacations together. On one of these, in the mountains, they lose their way as darkness falls, stumble along, and then finally see the light of a peasant hut. They knock, enter, and explain their predicament to the peasant woman, who welcomes them. She explains that alas she has nothing to offer except some fish. In time, she comes with a plate containing one glorious, big and one scrawny, small trout. Pastor and rabbi take turns refusing to help themselves first, until finally the rabbi takes the big one. Says the pastor, “You know, I don’t have an anti-Semitic bone in my body, but none of us could have done that.” Rabbi: “Done what?” Pastor: “Taken the big one.” “What would you have done?” asks the rabbi. “Taken the smaller one, of course,” the pastor said. “But that’s what you have!” the rabbi replied.
Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.
— John 21:18
Liberalism, Cardinal Newman wrote in the 1860s [in his Apologia], “is scarcely now a party; it is the educated lay world . . . it is nothing else than that deep, plausible scepticism, which I spoke about as being the development of human reason, as practically exercised by the natural man.”
— Fritz Stern, Five Germanies I Have Known, New York, 2006, 10.