I first encountered the German word Sehnsucht which means "longing" in the writing of C.S. Lewis. To me this word and the emotion it alludes to are ... powerful, beautiful, wondrous, a beauty beyond what I could imagine. Elizabeth Camden wrote that Lewis described Sehnsucht as an inconsolable longing in the human heart “for which we know not what.” It is a haunting sense of longing which Lewis first experienced in childhood and encountered throughout his life. Sometimes the characters in his Chronicles of Narnia experience it, which he wrote about very evocatively. To my understanding these stabs of joy and longing are pointing us toward what we call heaven.
That longing draws me deeper in being a Christian, just as it draws countless others around the world and throughout different centuries. I feel sehnsucht when I see something that moves me beyond myself. I have put my hand on the trunk of an ancient redwood tree and felt a powerful connection to its age and perhaps a wisdom it has. Most days I stand on the shore and watch ocean waves and I find it comforting that the waves are endless, one after another. I feel God's power and his calm when I watch waves. "He hath made everything beautiful in its time" -- Ecclesiastes 3:11
Also "The heavens declare the glory of God" -- Psalm 19:1. For me the waves and the redwood declare the glory of God. Sehnsucht, such a beautiful longing. By the way I read that it is pronounced ze.nzuxt. Blog friend Dori, is that correct?
In Surprised by Joy, Lewis wrote about joy or sehnsucht that "All Joy reminds. It is never a possession, always a desire for something longer ago or further away or still 'about to be' ." I see a look of longing and perhaps sehnsucht in the eyes of this dear dog.
On June 25 I am adding this note, thanking Chris and Liz Hinds for leaving comments about the Welsh word "hiraeth", which means a longing to return home to Wales. How beautiful to have a word describing your heart felt desire to return to Wales, the home of your heart. Also, Chris reminded me of the great movie "Shadowlands" about C.S. Lewis, and now I want to watch it again. I recommend it, and she said Shadowlands mentions "sehnsucht."