“Not as the world giveth, give I unto you.”


“There is not a guarantee in the world. Oh your needs are guaranteed, your needs are absolutely guaranteed by the most stringent of warranties, in the plainest, truest words: knock; seek; ask. But you must read the fine print. “Not as the world giveth, give I unto you.” That’s the catch. If you can catch it it will catch you up, aloft, up to any gap at all, and you’ll come back, for you will come back, transformed in a way you may not have bargained for – dribbling and crazed. The waters of separation, however lightly sprinkled, leave indelible stains. Did you think, before you were caught, that you needed, say life? Do you think you will keep your life, or anything else you love? But no. Your needs are all met. But not as the world giveth. You see the needs of your own spirit met whenever you have asked, and you have learned that the outrageous guarantee holds. You see the creatures die, and you know you will die. And one day it occurs to you that you must not need life. Obviously. And then you’re gone.

I think that the dying pray at the last not ‘please,’ but ‘thank you,’ as a guest thanks his host at the door. Falling from airplanes the people are crying thank you, thank you, all down the air; and the cold carriages draw up for them on the rocks. ‘Do you think I made the universe in jest?’ Allah demands. No, divinity is not playful. The universe was not made in jest but in solemn incomprehensible earnest. By a power that is unfathomably secret, and holy, and fleet. There is nothing to be done about it, but ignore it, or see. And then you walk fearlessly, eating what you must, growing wherever you can, like the monk on the road who knows how vulnerable he is, who takes no comfort among death forgetting men, and who carries his vision of vastness and might around in his tunic like a live coal that neither burns nor warms him, but with which he will not part.”

~ Annie Dillard, Pilgrim At Tinker Creek

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2 thoughts on ““Not as the world giveth, give I unto you.”

  1. Thomas says:

    Wow, how did I arrive here? I was archiving from Gaia The Harpooned, read several posts you wrote (a few heart rendingly about your dear Mischa), clicked your profile, saw your links, clicked one, was redirected … voila, flung here down some branched tree. I love Annie Dillard. I remember the passage above clearly: it’s near the end of her book, isn’t it? What passion, clarity, insight she writes. Thank you for sharing this, Lauren.

  2. madbluewings says:

    Thomas, thank you for your beautiful tender receiving of the Mischa thread and for echoing back to me the mystery of that pain and beauty. And for arriving here and partaking and offering your generous response! I just found your comment here, and I’m so glad that you landed on this branch. I can’t remember where it is in Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, I copied it down when I first read the book long ago. Soon, I must reread the whole book. So many magnificent insights and beautiful, beautiful writing.

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