Friday, July 13, 2007

Simone Weil and Blaise Pascal: Entry into "The Moment"



As mentioned before, the writings of both Simone Weil and Blaise Pascal have been very important to me of late. I think it fascinating to look here at the words they use to describe their initial and profound encounters with God--mystical experiences, "the fullness of the moment" as Kierkegaard says. Both of their accounts indicate instances of passivity on their part, testifying to the weight and glory of the experience, the Presence being forced upon them.
Simone Weil even claims that she was "possessed by Christ" while reading George Herbert's "Love". Weil, a thinker and activist who had no interest and perhaps little previous exposure to Christianity, was struck by the strange, unexpected reality of this "possession". She claims that:
"God in his mercy had prevented me from reading the mystics, so that it should be evident to me that I had not invented this absolutely unexpected contact."

Then she goes onto say some beautiful, fascinating, challenging, important things:

"Yet I still half refused, not my love but my intelligence. For it seemed to me certain, and I still think so today, that one can never wrestle enough with God if one does so out of pure regard for the truth. Christ likes us to prefer truth to him because, before being Christ, he is truth. If one turns aside from him to go toward the truth, one will not go far before falling into his arms."
To read Weil's full account look here.
Pascal's famous close call with death/conversion moment beautifully coloured his life, writing, perspective until his death, when a piece of cloth detailing his encounter was found sewn onto the inside of his jacket. It said this:

"From about half past ten in the evening to about half an hour after midnight.
Fire.
God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob.
Not the God of philosophers and scholars.
Absolute Certainty: Beyond reason. Joy. Peace.
Forgetfulness of the world and everything but God.
The world has not known Thee, but I have known Thee.
Joy! Joy! Joy! Tears of Joy!"

I wish I could say that the above photos were my own--they aren't. Kurt Simonson, professor of photography from Biola Univeristy, was just visiting L'abri and took many beautiful photos--these are a small sampling. To see more of his wonderful work look here.

5 comments:

LisaRFarmer said...

Mary,
I love these quotes as it reminds me of the mystical sense that comes with knowing God. It is tempting as believers to become so enamered with "knowledge" of God and opinions that we forget the mystery and experience outside ourselves. What beauty! ~lisa

Lisa R. said...

One can also become so involved in an email that words like "enamored" end up being misspelled...

kurt said...

Mary, I'm honored to see my photos in use on your site. I love when people connect to them. thanks for the promo too.

How have things been? we'll have to catch up over some emails or facebook messages soon.

Linnea K. said...

Mary,
I love that Weil passage too. Have you ever heard Vaughan Williams' setting of that Herbert poem? It's in a song cycle called "The Five Mystical Songs" (they are all Herbert poems) and I think it's a wonderful interpretation of the poem musically. I always think of Weil when I sing the song. My mom really loved Weil too--that's how I was first introduced to her.
--Linnea

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