Longing: The Inner “Bowstring” of Tension

Dietrich Bonhoeffer:

In my experience there is no greater torment than longing. Some people have been so shaken from early on in their lives that they can no longer, so to speak, manage any great longing. They have given up extending their inner “bowstring” of tension [1] over long periods of time and create for themselves surrogate pleasures that can be more easily satisfied.

[1] Bonhoeffer notes: “Discipline – to keep life in daily relation to pain. Unfulfilled tension as blessing. Meaning of passion not only fulfillment but the very tension as well, existential suspense toward the future.”

Letters and Papers from Prison


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