Sehnschut. It's a German word which apparently it doesn't translate well into English. C.S. Lewis describes it like this: "We cannot tell it because it is a desire for something that has never actually appeared in our experience. We cannot hide it because our experience is constantly suggesting it..."
This is what you'll find at Wikipedia:
"Sehnschut (German pronunciation:) is a German noun translated as 'longing, 'yearning,'or 'craving",1 or in a wider sense a type of 'intensely missing.'"
"It is sometimes felt as a longing for a far-off country, but not a particular earthly land which we can identify. Furthermore there is something in the experience which suggests this far-off country is very familiar and indicative of what we might otherwise call 'home'. In this sense it is a type of nostalgia, in the original sense of that word."
It's Ecclesiastes 3:11: "He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end."
We all know it. It's why kids draw stuff with crayons. It's why we take a second look (at least) at a sunset. It's why men sport and women shop and why 35,000 people flocked to a small town in Oklahoma this weekend to hear one of the world's best bands perform.
It motivates us in so many ways, the sehnschut, and mostly without us even being aware of it.
And even when a glimpse of beauty is discovered, captured in pixels, or experienced it still leaves us wanting because it is, after all, only a glimpse or reflection. Unless we take that longing and transform it to worship, adoration of Beauty itself, it all falls short of ever being fulfilling.
There was all kinds of beauty to behold this weekend. A weekend to share with just my husband- beautiful. A color scheme and themed lyrics all painted all over little Guthrie, OK- beautiful. All the music- quite beautiful.
And of course, all the light everywhere- beautiful.
The sunset and the slivered moon- beautiful.
And all these people, all gathered, anticipating something that they collectively found beautiful- they were interesting. Not that I'm unlike most of them. I search, I hunt, I interact with sehnschut in ways I shouldn't. But I am so thankful for the turn of events that set my waywardly sehnschut-ing heart straight.
The headliners- Mumford and Sons- began their set just after dark. I was was exhausted from the heat of the day. I don't think I had ever been so hot in my life (and that's saying something for a native Louisianian). I was bothered by my blisters from walking miles and miles. I felt like Zacchaeus- not to see the main event being vertically challenged as I am.
But instead of going up, like Zacchaeus, my patient and astute husband suggested that we get low. So we did. We went to the back of the crowd and laid down in the grass and looked up at the stars and enjoyed the music from the vantage point of smallness. As Mumford sang about love and light and waiting, I sang to true Beauty. Redemption.
"The life of true holiness is rooted in the soil of awed adoration. It does not grow elsewhere." J.I. Packer
So as we continue our beauty hunting and our gift counting, may it always lead us to delight in its Giver, its Creator, the One who loves us and speaks to us so clearly if we tune in and listen. May we get low and give way to awed adoration of Beauty true. Because as Jared Wilson points out, "Only the enjoyment of God himself makes Sehnsucht truly beautiful."
On the Indian Turnpike on the drive home, my friend Kathy texted me a page from her Bible. The morning's sermon had been on Ecclesiastes 3:11. Of course...