heart-rending harmony

God created through love and for love. God did not create anything except love itself, and the means to love. He created love in all its forms. He created beings capable of love from all possible distances. Because no other could do it, he himself went to the greatest possible distance, the infinite distance. This infinite distance between God and God, this supreme tearing apart, this agony beyond all others, this marvel of love, is the crucifixion. Nothing can be further from God than that which has been made accursed.

This tearing apart, over which supreme love places the bond of supreme union, echoes perpetually across the universe in the midst of the silence, like two notes, separate yet melting into one, like pure and heart-rending harmony. This is the Word of God. The whole creation is nothing but its vibration. When human music in its greatest purity pierces our soul, this is what we hear through it. When we have learned to hear the silence, this is what we grasp more distinctly through it.

Those who persevere in love hear this note from the very lowest depths into which affliction has thrust them. From that moment they can no longer have any doubt.

Men struck down by affliction are at the foot of the Cross, almost at the greatest possible distance from God. It must not be thought that sin is a greater distance. Sin is not a distance, it is a turning of our gaze in the wrong direction.

– from Waiting for God by Simone Weil

6 thoughts on “heart-rending harmony

  1. Parts of this I love. ‘Sin is not a distance, it is a turning of our gaze in the wrong direction.’ This seems to me to be spot on.

    Parts belong to a theology with which I am most profoundly uncomfortable, to say the least: ‘Nothing can be further from God than that which has been made accursed.’

    Price, cost, sacrifice, are all ideas with which I am comfortable. Accursed, no.

  2. I ‘heard’ that in terms of how crucifixion was perceived at the time — as the ultimate dishonour, as being ‘accursed’. But you are probably right in assuming that that is not what was intended.

  3. Yes, I agree, Rosemary – the accursed part jarred with me as well, and I struggled with whether to leave the quote whole or not put it in. I decided it was important enough to leave it in because she is trying to illustrate the extreme separation that this love both suffered and survived – and overcame. But that doesn’t get round the idea of there existing ‘that which has been made accursed,’ and I don’t feel comfortable with that either. Accursedness implies no room for redemption, and yet I wonder if she means that with the crucifixion, that distance, that gap has been bridged. After the crucifixion, is there room for that language anymore? It seems like a very Old Testament word to me – accursed. I’m afraid I don’t know enough about Weil to know what she means by it. But you’ve certainly got me thinking now!

  4. Poor old Old testament! Very little being accursed in it indeed, and most of what is, being ‘thrice accursed’ in I think the sense of ‘really and truly unacceptable’ not in the sense of ‘a state of especial unholiness’. People are ‘cursed’ ritually for doing things like moving boundary stones – but I don’t think that implies at all the kind of thing the Veil passage speaks of, which I think is a mediaeval idea.

    Crucifixion is a Roman death, not a Jewish one. Jesus died a typical crucifixion death in all but its suddenness – the same death other Jewish freedom fighters and rebels died. the Romans did, it is true, reserve it for non-Romans (hence Paul could not be crucified) but I don’t think they saw it as accursed, just nasty and undignified. It is hard to see how the Jews would have internalised the Roman idea of the nastiest death an efficient people could invent, to turn it into something especially ritually wrong.

    I think we are looking at mediaeval theology read back into an earlier period.

    But I do love sin as looking in the wrong direction – that will live with me for a long time, and is very valuable, I think.

  5. p.s. I suspect what she means is Romans 7.23-8.8 or ff. but I’m not sure that Paul means what he has been taken to mean.

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