simone weil – self-effacement

simone weil gravity and graceGod gave me being in order that I should give it back to him. It is like one of those traps whereby the characters are tested in fairy stories and tales on initiation. If I accept this gift it is bad and fatal; its virtue becomes apparent through my refusal of it. God allows me to exist outside himself. It is for me to refuse this authorisation.

Humility is the refusal to exist outside God. It is the queen of virtues.

The self is only the shadow which sin and error cast by stopping the light of God, and I take this shadow for a being.

Even if we could be like God it would be better to be mud which obeys God.

To be what the pencil is for me when, blindfold, I feel the table by means of its point—to be that for Christ. It is possible for us to be mediators between God and the part of creation which is confided to us. Our consent is necessary in order that he may perceive his own creation through us. With our consent he performs this marvel. If I knew how to withdraw from my own soul it would be enough to enable this table in front of me to have the incomparable good fortune of being seen by God. God can love in us only this consent to withdraw in order to make way for him, just as he himself, our creator, withdrew in order that we might come into being. This double operation has no other meaning than love, it is like a father giving his child something which will enable the child to give a present on his father’s birthday. God who is no other thing but love has not created anything other than love.

All the things that I see, hear, breathe, touch, eat; all the beings I meet—I deprive the sum total of all that of contact with God, and I deprive God of contact with all that in so far as something in me says ‘I’.

I can do something for all that and for God—namely, retire and respect the tête-à-tête.

The strict carrying out of ordinary human duty is a condition which makes my withdrawal possible. Little by little it wears away the ropes which fasten me to the spot and prevent me from retiring.

I cannot conceive the necessity for God to love me, when I feel so clearly that even with human beings affection for me can only be a mistake. But I can easily imagine that he loves that perspective of creation which can only be seen from the point where I am. But I act as a screen. I must withdraw so that he may see it.

I must withdraw so that God may make contact with the beings whom chance places in my path and whom he loves. It is tactless for me to be there. It is as though I were placed between two lovers or two friends. I am not the maiden who awaits her betrothed, but the unwelcome third who is with two betrothed lovers and ought to go away so that they can really be together.

If only I knew how to disappear there would be a perfect union of love between God and the earth I tread, the sea I hear…

What do the energy, the gifts, etc. which are in me matter?

I always have enough of them to disappear.

‘Et la mort à mes yeux ravissant la  clarté
Rend au jour qu’ils souillaient toute sa pureté…’*

May I disappear in order that those things that I see may become perfect in their beauty from the very fact that they are no longer things that I see.

I do not in the least wish that this created world should fade from my view, but that it should no longer be to me personally that it shows itself. To me it cannot tell its secret which is too high. If I go, then the creator and the creature will exchange their secrets.

To see a landscape as it is when I am not there…

When I am in any place, I disturb the silence of heaven and earth by my breathing and the beating of my heart.

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*‘And death, robbing my eyes of their light, restores to the day they sullied all in purity…
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Excerpted from Simone Weil‘s Gravity and Grace. First French edition 1947. Translated by Emma Crawford. English language edition 1963. Routledge and Kegan Paul, London.

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