April 11, 2014

Sehnsucht by Connie Inglis

A few weeks ago, when I initially pondered the question posed for this month, I thought of some noble reasons for my purpose in writing. But when I really searched my soul I realized that my main reason wasn't lofty at all. The green-eyed monster of jealousy was gnawing on my heart and mind--that desire to be recognized like some of you have been recently--that desire for my readers to pat me on the back and say, "Well done" or, "Wow. You are talented." It was all about me. Ugh! I thought I had dealt with those feelings when I started to take my writing more seriously. So I was not only feeling "ugh" but also ugly. I had to go to the foot of the cross and confess that selfish junk to Jesus once again.

The Holy Spirit brings sin to mind but the beauty is that once it is confessed, He brings comfort and assurance and peace. In this case, He reminded me of what I seek as a reader. I seek sehnsucht--a word I just "happened" to come across a week ago. It was an epiphany moment because it was the word I was looking for to write this blog entry.

According to other-wordly.tumblr.com, sehnsucht is "the inconsolable longing in the human heart for we know not what; a yearning for a far, familiar, non-earthly land one can identify as one's home." Ecclesiastes refers to it as, "eternity in the hearts of man." (Eccl. 3:11) God has placed a longing within the human heart to be seeking someone or something outside of the physical world we live in--a longing only He can fill. I want my writing to cause the reader to feel that longing for something more. For the believer I want them to get a fresh glimpse of God and future hope that leads them to thanksgiving. For the unbeliever, I want them to see God's goodness and grace and beauty so that it will lead them to search for God and that land He promises for them.

Sehnsucht was particularly significant to C.S. Lewis. In the afterword to the third edition of The Pilgrim's Regress he describes sehnsucht as:

"That unnameable something, desire for which pierces us like a rapier at the smell of bonfire, the sound of wild ducks flying overhead, the title of The Well at the World's End, the opening lines of "Kubla Khan", the morning cobwebs in late summer, or the noise of falling waves."
I think you all know what he's talking about. Maybe that's why his works lead the reader to sehnsucht, at least they do for me. I'm not just referring to his theological books. It's The Chronicles of Narnia, his Space Trilogy and his allegorical works that speak more deeply to my heart and soul; they call me to that "other" world, proving that the Christian message doesn't need to be blatantly stated to move a person.
In his book, The Ragamuffin Gospel, Brennan Manning put it this way:

“Grace abounds in contemporary movies, books, novels, films and music. If God is not in the whirlwind, He may be in a Woody Allen film, or a Bruce Springsteen concert. Most people understand imagery and symbol better than doctrine and dogma. Images touch hearts and awaken imaginations."

I agree with Manning, especially when it comes to music. I can worship God as much through a song by The Who or Leonard Cohen as a song by Chris Tomlin. There is something "other-worldly" about music. It beckons us to seek the Creator of the universe.

Yesterday I was driving home to Edmonton from Calgary. I was listening to Gungor's, "Ghosts upon the Earth" album. I find that sole road trips, with just me and my music, lead me to sehnsucht. This whole album did that for me. I was overwhelmed with thanksgiving to God and I worshiped Him. That is what I would like to instill in my readers--a sehnsucht that would cause them to seek and find the God of grace, goodness, love and hope and that He would be glorified.

Here is one of the songs from my road trip. It's called, "Brother Moon." I recommend the whole album. Another song I love is, "This is Not the End." It's a song about heaven. It makes me dance!


  1. You make such an important point, Connie.

    As Christian writers/writers who are Christian, we are signposts. Our writing is a signpost.

    At least I hope that's my ultimate goal.

    I don't remark on the amazing signpost directing me to my destination. I remark on what I discover at the destination. Isn't that what we want our readers to do as well?

  2. Connie,
    Thanks for your honesty. I think we all struggle with that green-eyed monster from time to time.

    Thanks also for describing so well what sehnsucht means. I appreciate your heart for God and your desire to use your writing for His glory. I appreciate you!

    Ruth L. Snyder

  3. Thanks Bobbi & Ruth for your encouraging words. God is good.

  4. We wouldn't be human if we did not feel envious at some point. It is normal and natural, but when we recognize it - as you did - we must come before the Father an confess, asking for his help. You are not alone! I also appreciated the references you used. God really has put the desire for eternity in our hearts and it is a noble desire to have this come through in our writing...

  5. Hi
    Just thought about this the other day - but didn't have a name for it. Feeling "out of place" in this world and longing for another place. I love this.
    We live here, but we don't really belong here. We yearn to be with God.
    Blessings to you,

  6. ". . . the Christian message doesn't need to be blatantly stated to move a person." Oh I am so with you on this, Connie! There are many movies that have redemptive themes. I guess it depends on a person's worldview what they get out of them, but I find myself feeling that sehnsucht so often when watching them, and being drawn to worship, too. And music works the same way, like you said! I didn't know there was a word for it though. Cool.
    Pam Mytroen

  7. I appreciate the new word you gave us. Thanks for "sehnsucht." I thought of a song we sing at church,
    "There is a Longing in Our Hearts, O Lord." When I googled it I found it sung at this site.


    Thanks for you good writing on what you are looking for and what you want your readers to get out of your writing. Lovely.

  8. Connie,

    I LOVED your post. It resonates in my heart completely.

    I'd forgotten that word sehnsucht, so thank you for sharing its meaning with us here. It really is the perfect word, isn't it?

    Our hearts beat in a similar fashion, I see, for your desire for what you want your writing to do for your readers is exactly what I want my writings to do too.

    Many blessings, Connie, and please carry on your good work!

    BTW, I loved that video you shared.
    No wonder you were dancing in your car.

    I've done my own sitting-in- the-driver's-seat dancing down that long strip between our two great cities as I listened to some great piece of music. Mozart or Bach always makes my heart dance too with the joy of just being alive.



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