Simone Weil was born in Paris to Jewish parents in 1909. She studied philosophy and became involved in leftist causes including fighting against Spanish loyalists in the Spanish civil war, and identifying with the plight of factory workers. She is widely praised for her contributions to philosophy and political theory.
Though not a Christian as a young person, a number of spiritual encounters led her to embracing Christ. She describes one of these which took place during a recitation of the poem by George Herbert entitled “Love bade me welcome”. Weil expressed that “Christ came down and took possession” of her. She had a powerful and personal encounter with the love of Christ that changed her and moved her to deep devotion to God. An enigmatic figure, Weil suffered various ailments and illnesses throughout her life, including debilitating headaches, and was noted for eating very little. She died at age 34 through refusing foods while in care for treatable illnesses. This is the poem that worked as a doorway for her encounter of the love of Jesus:
Love bade me welcome, yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-ey’d Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
If I lack’d anything.
“A guest,” I answer’d, “worthy to be here”;
Love said, “You shall be he.”
“I, the unkind, the ungrateful? ah my dear,
I cannot look on thee.”
Love took my hand and smiling did reply,
“Who made the eyes but I?”
“Truth, Lord, but I have marred them; let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.”
“And know you not,” says Love, “who bore the blame?”
“My dear, then I will serve.”
“You must sit down,” says Love, “and taste my meat.”
So I did sit and eat.
As we plunge headlong this term into an exploration of love, I believe Timothy Keller’s words are apt: “To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything.”
In love, Nicholas