Waiting for God by Simone Weil Download (read online) free eBook .pdf.epub.kindle

Waiting for God

“My dear father, I have made up my mind to write to you….I have been wondering lately about the will of God, what it means, and how we can reach the point of conforming ourselves to it completely I will tell you what I think about this.” SIMONE WEIL, LETTER I, WAITING FOR GOD

Emerging from the thought-provoking discussions and correspondence Simone Weil had with the Rever

Emerging from the thought-provoking discussions and correspondence Simone Weil had with the Reverend Father Perrin, this classic collection of essays contains the renowned philosopher and social activist’s most profound meditations on the relationship of human life to the realm of the transcendent. An enduring masterwork and “one of the most neglected resources of our century” (Adrienne Rich), Waiting for God will continue to influence spiritual and political thought for centuries to come.

“Simone Weil has become a legend, and her writings are regarded as a classic document of our period.” THE NEW YORKER

“Her example, her achievements, her frustrations, her intellectual or moral or religious impasses, and her failures, self-described or apparent to us from hindsight, all can serve to focus the mind, enlarge the heart, and stir the soul.” ROBERT COLES

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    Oct 03, 2008

    rated it
    it was amazing

    review of another edition

    Recommended to booklady by:

    Simone Weil’s Waiting for God was a Christmas gift for me in 2013, but one I received in time for Advent. As any serious reader knows, when one encounters a significant book/author—much like when you meet the right person—can be almost as important as the book itself.

    Waiting for God is an unlikely but apt Advent read. It is improbable in the sense Weil lived a more vibrant Christianity than most who claim to be ardent members of any known Christian denomination and yet she stopped short of recei

    Waiting for God is an unlikely but apt Advent read. It is improbable in the sense Weil lived a more vibrant Christianity than most who claim to be ardent members of any known Christian denomination and yet she stopped short of receiving the sacrament of Baptism. It is pertinent as in the first word of the title; ‘waiting’ is a function of Advent.

    As the ‘arrival of something anticipated’, the Christian liturgical season of Advent is necessarily a waiting time. Weil was by nature as well as choice a lifelong wait-er. She was waiting literately on God, on His guidance and His instructions as she perceived them.

    This is a difficult concept for most of us to grasp. We get up in the morning and do what we’ve always done, what’s required by the day’s schedule or for those without benefit of discipline, whatever strikes the fancy. For the rest, if the routine varies it’s usually due to input from others, circumstances beyond our control such as accidents, emergencies, and other major events, good and bad, major or minor.

    Weil’s approach to life and the writing she shares in this book is completely different. First of all, there’s intensity to everything she says and does. It’s as if she can never forget, not even for a second, the temporary nature of our earthly existence. She’s in a race with time and while you are with her so are you. And yet, at the same time, she is deeply contemplative. Nothing is superficial or insignificant to/or about her. She’s completely real and yet an enigma because as she continues to learn and grow, she constantly changes. I could sense these things about her in my reading but it was so intuitive that as I would go back over what I’d just covered, I’d often find it almost impossible to put my finger on exactly what it was that led me to these conclusions. Also, I felt protective of her. Perhaps I am wrong in this, but I found myself reluctant to share her writings with certain individuals who would dismiss her ideas outright simply because of her choices, especially her choice not to be baptized. Or maybe what I mean is that I lament my own inability to defend her choices because although instinctively I agree with her, I don’t understand her writings well enough to defend her against critics. And I couldn’t bear the thought of her being criticized. Let them make fun of or insult me, but not her.

    Waiting for God is a collection of writings which are only loosely related. There are her six letters to Father Perrin, apparently a devout priest, friend and spiritual confidant who she entrusts with her reasons for loving yet refusing to join the Church. These all-too brief letters read like the most unusual and deeply moving love story I can imagine. Sometimes the situation reminded me of an arranged marriage between God and Simone, where she was only waiting to hear her dearly Beloved tell her He loved her and that would be enough for her to go ahead (with Baptism). Other times I had the feeling she really saw herself as God’s Missionary to those outside organized religion. Either way, she was content to be what He wanted her to be, because she belonged to Him and Him alone.

    The second part of the book is a collection of essays. These left me spellbound and changed me at every encounter. At some point in time I want to go back and try to summarize my notes on them—but after I have had some time to let the ideas Weil proposed gestate. As I was reading these essays, I would read for a while, then pause, reflect, pray or jot something in the margins or highlight a section. If pressed to say which was my favorite essay I would reluctantly choose Forms of the Implicit Love of God looking back wistfully at Concerning the Our Father, only because the former contained so many divine (no pun intended) mini-essays.

    I am thoroughly frustrated with this review, but then I know I would be disappointed with anything I could write about Weil’s work. But eventually I have to finish it and let it go. As to the book, well this is just an introductory read. God willing, I’ll be back!

    Subsequent thoughts although not a final review – December 7, 2013: Have been reading Simone Weil’s Waiting for God in bits and pieces. (Interestingly enough as I was typing those words Oklahoma experienced a 4.5 earthquake. We also happen to be in the middle of the biggest college football game of the season (OU v. OSU)—which my daughter is watching in the other room—while our state is under a blanket of snow and temperatures below 20 degrees.)

    Weil is both frustrating and deeply satisfying. She is frustrating in the sense that her extreme intelligence enables her to be so far ahead it’s not easy to keep up with her or know where you are when you get there and yet as/when her meanings come into focus, I enjoy that addicting ‘ahah!’ and resulting tremendous kinship with the one who gifts insight. So often I wanted her to be here so I could ask, “What do you mean by this?” or, “Where have you gone now?”

    So far I’ve read and reread the Introduction, her letters to Father Perrin, her essay, “The Love of God and Affliction”—which is totally amazing – and prayed “Concerning the Our Father”*. I’ve also skimmed the other two essays but not actually sat and read them as the writing merits. I don’t believe it’s possible to do Ms. Weil’s philosophy justice in one perusal, well at least not for me.

    Her thoughts are not organized in any conventional sort of way. On refection I believe this to be because of her proximity to the Infinite, her total surrender in humble obedience to the God she is waiting for. How can our little words ever articulate the vastness of Eternity? Find clarity in a funnel cloud or a hurricane. Rather wait. She is telling us there will be total clarity tomorrow. Now there is only the whirlwind. His Power. Waiting for God.

    But then I’m not finished either…

    *Actually this is so powerful I haven’t even managed to get all the way through praying the entire meditation at one time, so I’m working on just one phrase each day.

    This book is a gift from a friend here on GR and I cannot thank the kindness of that dear friend enough!


    Initial Impressions – November 2013: Waiting for God begins with Weil’s letters. I have found it necessary to read and reread parts of these a number of times, her mind and thoughts being so much more subtle than mine. Clumsily my eyes follow along her words on the page but she has escaped me. So I go painstakingly back over the sentences again. Perhaps I have grasped her concept. Perhaps not. Still reading…



    Feb 13, 2017

    rated it
    really liked it

    After reading her books, you have to ask, is Simone Weil a saint or is she crazy? After all, when she was ill with pneumonia, she allowed herself to eat just the amount she thought would be available to residents of German occupied France in the early 1940s – and starved herself at age 34.

    Why should we read Weil? Susan Sontag tells us we often measure truth in terms of the suffering of the author. Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Dostoevsky, Kafka, Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Genet—and Simone Weil have their au

    Why should we read Weil? Susan Sontag tells us we often measure truth in terms of the suffering of the author. Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Dostoevsky, Kafka, Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Genet—and Simone Weil have their authority with us partly because of their conviction, their self-martyrdom.

    Modern readers could not embrace the life choices or ideas of Kierkegaard and Nietzsche, but ‘we read them for their scathing originality, for their personal authority, for the example of their seriousness, and for their willingness to sacrifice themselves for their truths.’ Simone Weil belongs in this category, ‘one of the most uncompromising and troubling witnesses to the modern travail of the spirit.’

    Simone Weil was born into a family of wealthy, intellectual, secular Parisian Jews. In her early twenties she had a spiritual birth when in a Portuguese village she heard the wives of fishermen singing religious hymns. She felt Christianity was the true religion of the oppressed. Later she was moved by a chapel where St. Frances served, and by poem from Herbert.

    Although she accepted Jesus as truth and beauty, she would never be baptized because she believed the same truth and beauty existed in the Greek philosophers, in Taoism, in Buddhism, in the Bhagavad-Gita and in ancient Egypt.

    She also believed ‘The Church has borne too many evil fruits for there not to have been some mistake at the beginning. Europe has been spiritually uprooted, cut off from that antiquity in which all the elements of our civilization have their origin. . . It would be strange, indeed, that the word of Christ should have produced such results if it had been properly understood.’

    She was also appalled by what organized religion could do when it became powerful, citing the Catholic Church’s record of the crusades, banning, and inquisition. She was similarly suspicious of Protestantism, which she felt to be too closely linked with individual nations. Plus, she felt too many parishioners assign importance to the rituals instead of striving to attain a personal understanding with God.

    Weil saw Jesus as the perfect model of suffering. Weil believed that God’s love becomes born or personified in us when we pay attention to others. This requires emptying ourselves of our own our interests and projections in order to be truly present to another person – similar to the kenosis of the early Gnostics.

    She left her position as a philosophy professor where she was constantly in trouble with school administrators because of her involvement with the unemployed, her participation in labor protests and her difficulty dealing with authority. She worked in an auto factory, then in the fields working a farm.

    Simone Weil tells us that the first principle of helping another is not action. It is to see and respect the other. She repeatedly notes that the greater the suffering of the other person, the harder it is truly to see and hear that person.

    Weil reminds us how glibly we can talk about compassion, as if it were an easy thing, sometimes making it sound like little more than pity. However, true compassion requires us to allow suffering to disturb us and even sometimes to take us over.

    Weil wrote ‘There should not be the slightest discrepancy between one’s thoughts and one’s way of life.’ Sontag responds that sanity requires some compromising, some evasions and even lies. Maybe that why Weil’s relentless searching makes us uncomfortable.

    T.S. Eliot wrote ‘A potential saint can be a very difficult person. One is struck, here and there, by contrast between (Weil’s) almost superhuman humility and what appears to be an almost outrageous arrogance.’

    Kenneth Rexroth wrote ‘Simone Weil was one of the most remarkable women of the twentieth, or indeed of any other century. She could interject all the ill of the world into her own heart. . . Her letters read like the more distraught signals of John of the Cross in the dark night.’

    Pope Paul VI (who corresponded with Weil and tried to get her baptized) said that Weil was one of his three greatest influences, and Albert Camus said ‘Weil was the only great spirit of our time.’ I believe Sontag, Eliot and Rexroth are right. We may disagree with parts of what Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Dostoyevsky and Weil said, but we can’t help but be struck by their searing insights.

    Waiting for God is a collection of Weil’s letters and essays that were compiled after her death, and it is a full array of Weil’s thinking from baptism to friendship and from school studies to the nature of love. It doesn’t flow well because she never wrote a book in her lifetime; her books are all compilations of her letters.

    I like one of Weil’s spiritual insights: ‘An atheist may be simply one whose faith and love are concentrated on the impersonal aspects of God.’

    I initially rated this book lower due to the lack of cohesiveness among the essays, but after time and reflecting on today’s reactions against immigrants, and with Brexit and Trump, I felt perhaps the world needs to hear more from someone who truly understood compassion and actually lived with genuine empathy for those less fortunate.

    David Clark

    Apr 23, 2012

    rated it
    it was amazing

    How does one offer an opinion much less a critique of a “classic” book? A number of my mentors, thoughtful friends, and respected teachers have noted Simon Weil’s influence and have urged me to read her essays–but I resisted. I confess now my reluctance sprang from suspicion, an unfounded suspicion as it turns out that Simone Weil was simply another spiritual fad. It was the admonition by a respected friend to not buy the book unless I was prepared to be seriously challenged that, of course, wa

    My first reading occurred during a long day of air travel. This long and uninterrupted time to read was fortuitous. This is a book reading that cannot be digested quickly, needs frequent review and pondering of sentences and paragraphs, and does not tolerate interruption.

    The irony of reading a starving young aesthetic’s painful and honest thoughts about wholly loving God while cruising at 30,000 feet was not lost, Weil’s thoughts about beauty seemed prophetic as we flew over the Rockies at sunset. “The love we feel for the splendor of the heavens, the plains, the sea, and the mountains, for the silence of nature which is borne in upon us by thousands of tiny sounds, for the breath of the winds or the warmth of the sun, this love of which every human being has at least and inkling, is an incomplete, painful love, because it is felt for things incapable of responding, . . . Men want to turn this same love toward a being who is like themselves and capable of answering to their love, of saying yes, of surrendering. . . . The longing to love the beauty of the world in a human being is essentially the longing for the Incarnation. . . .The Incarnation alone can satisfy it.”

    As a teacher, I think the essay “Reflections on the Right Use of School Studies with a View to the Love of God” should be required reading for all students and teachers. However, be forewarned. Weil would not be a fan of “No child left behind” or for that matter, much else on our contemporary educational scene. For instance these politically incorrect words, “Quite apart from explicit religious belief, every time that a human being succeeds in making an effort of attention with the sole idea of increasing his grasp of truth, he acquires a greater aptitude for grasping it, even if his effort produces no visible fruit.” Weil was no Thomas Dewey-oid utilitarian educator.

    Weil is much quoted but I suspect like many thoughtful writers exploring difficult topics is less often read. In addition, to quote her thoughts on education or art without including her clear call for expanded compassion and service and suffering is to misconstrue by omission. Her prose is of an old fashioned and slightly inhospitable academic style, an odd combination of rigorous philosophic rationalism combined with an unapologetic mystical sensibility. Perhaps, some of the lumpy sentences would become more lyrical if read in the original French

    To be clear, I view this review as a first pass on Weil’s thought. I hold my first two readings of “Waiting for God” as insufficient to understand all of what this thin volume holds. Yet, there is a thick and compelling force in Weil’s words, a wisdom beyond what is possible to say and a palpable presence encrusting her printed words. Weil does not treat easy subjects and offers no pat “bullet-point” answers. The faith she describes speaks of suffering more than certainty and acts of contrition rather than acts of assertion. Like Flannery O’Connor, Weil the artist “uses[her] reason to discover an answering reason in everything [she] sees. . . to find [truth] in the object, in the situation, in the sequence.” Weil treats her words as art rather than utility. And as she points out, “Every true artist has had real, direct, and immediate contact with the beauty of the world, contact that is of the nature of a sacrament.”

    Sacraments are visible rites that signify and make present the grace of God. How like the God who favored children, the dispossessed, and the lowly to use a young woman’s words in the midst of war as a vehicle for grace. A woman who had virtually no impact while alive and did not feel worthy to partake of God’s sacraments has become the means by which others, and I am in that number, have found a far richer and larger available stock of reality.