Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Sehnsucht or Longing, C.S. Lewis and the Welsh word Hiraeth

 

 


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."

24 comments:

LC said...

Your sharing these deep thoughts bring to mind my thoughts in the months following the life-threatening hemorrhagic stroke
I experienced in 2011. My sense of the Savoir's presence was always with me, as I pondered my new path with disabilities. I found great comfort that happiness comes and goes but with Him joy is a constant. Life is good!

Marie Smith said...

These are great photos!

Betsy said...

Such an evocative post today. I too, know that longing. How I long for Heaven in these days full of turmoil and evil. And the sweet eyes of that dog. They reach to my soul.
Blessings and hugs,
Betsy

Debra She Who Seeks said...

My favourite quotation on this subject is by Rabbi Seymour Siegel, who wrote:

"In everyone's heart stirs a great homesickness . . . ."

The Feminine Energy said...

I loved your blog post today, Terra. It might interest you to know that I have a Chronicles of Narnia tattoo sleeve covering my right arm. Perhaps I'll post pictures one day, on my blog. ~Andrea xoxo

happyone said...

Oh the dog looks like he's saying let me out of here!

Aritha said...

The word Sehnsucht has become a bit of an old-fashioned word. You can find it in classical literature. Indeed, behind Sehsucht hides a world of romance and painful passion. The word becomes something like: addicted to the desire, to that which is not there, to that which will not come anymore and to that which has been. I like the word too.

Before I came to faith in Jesus I had that hole in my heart (sehnsucht). After that, no more. He filled it with himself. I am longing for Him.

Mari said...

This is such a beautiful post Terra. It brought tears to my eyes.

Linda said...

What a beautiful post! Thank you.....

Angelsdoor * Penny said...

Beautiful and heartwarming post!
Thank you so much for sharing
blessings,
Penny

gz said...

Sensucht...a little like the Welsh word Hiraeth

Vagabonde said...

I did not know this German word sehnsucht. It is true that sometimes words in another language cannot be translated easily into English. I find that also with French. Your photos are lovely – I like the first one especially.

Sandy said...

Interesting food for thought. I've never heard of the word Sehnsucht, or if I've read it in something long ago; I've forgotten it. I don't believe I've read any C.S. Lewis; nothing comes to mind. Loved your pictures of the trees and the ocean. I've always found a connection with large old big trees. They sorta speak to me. I've often wondered what all they've witnessed.
Sandy's Space

DawnTreader said...

One of my top favourite authors, but I think you know that ;) I've read several more books by him than just the Narnia series.

Haddock said...

Stand on the shore and watch ocean waves and find it comforting that the waves are endless...... something I like todo every time I am at a beach.

Chris said...

Such a wonderful description of Sehnsucht as being 'longing' I remember it occurred in the film about his life, 'Shadowlands' It's a bit like 'Hiraeth' what Welsh say means ..'a longing to come home to Wales' What I felt and after being away from Wales for 50 years, an I came home!

Chris said...

PS Stumbled across your blog and loved it.

Liz Hinds said...

Ah, I see Chris has already mentioned hiraeth! I think I may blog on that.

Beautiful waves. The sea also refreshes me and restores me.

Sandy said...

Waving hi as I make my blog rounds. Hope all is well.
Sandy's Space

Salty Pumpkin Studio said...

Beautiful post

Mevely317 said...

I'm so taken by the meaning of Sehnsucht! The fact it defies description makes it even more appealing -- my imagination's taken flight.

Christine said...

Beautiful word.

Sandi said...

I have that longing too.

DeniseinVA said...

Words can be very interesting, such as the ones you have used today. Thank you Terra :)