Saturday, January 12, 2013

Etty Hillesum

I've been re-reading one of my favorite books, An Interrupted Life:  The Diary of Etty Hillesum.  Etty Hillesum was a Dutch Jew who died in Auschwitz.  This book is her story in prayers and conversation with God written during the few years preceding her death. It's a tale that overflows with inspiration chronicling her journey to a deep and vibrant faith.  Despite the persecution that Etty not only witnessed, but also endured, she remained full of love and hope, never giving in to despair and bitterness over her fate.  What  a remarkable woman!  Here are some quotes that move my heart.  Hope they move yours, too...

"I love people so very terribly, because in every human being I love something of You."

"The jasmine behind my house has been completely ruined by the rains and storms of the last few days, its white blossoms are floating about in muddy black pools on the low garage roof. But somewhere inside me the jasmine continues to blossom undisturbed, just as profusely and delicately as it ever did. And it spreads its scent around the House in which You dwell, oh God. You can see, I look after You, I bring You not only my tears and forebodings on this stormy, grey Sunday morning, I even bring You scented jasmine."

"You are sure to go through some lean times with me now and then, when my faith weakens a little, but believe me, I shall always labor for you and remain faithful to You and I shall never drive You from my presence."

"And what those who say 'You live too intensely' do not know is that one can withdraw into a prayer as into a convent cell and leave again with renewed strength and with peace regained."

"And when the turmoil becomes too great and I am completely at my wits end, then I still have my folded hands and my bended is my most precious inheritance...the girl who learned to pray. That is my most intimate gesture, more intimate than even being with a man. After all, one can't pour the whole of one's love out over a single man, can one?" (*my favorite!)


  1. I love this book! Have read it a few times myself. I also thought that she was remarkable. Such faith. I've used her quotes in many talks I've given. Just inspiring!

    1. Colleen,

      She really feels like a kindred spirit, doesn't she? Reading her diary again I am struck by how some of my own struggles are similar to hers and it helps me to understand myself better and makes me want to deepen my relationship with God.

  2. I've never read this book, Anne. Yet :) The quotes from it are beautiful!

  3. I have to read this author. Thanks for posting her. What an amazing spirit and faith. "Withdrawing into prayer as into a convent cell." God Bless...

  4. I love the quote about the jasmine blooming within her! I've never read it but sounds like I would like it!