L. on May 24, 1938
Dear Fräulein [Laube]!
At various points in my last letter I wrote —I had to write — the word God, and I did so not without some apprehension. I would not like you to misunderstand. It is that much more consoling and reassuring to me that you have a connection to God.
God is the last solace that can preserve human beings from despair.
You should not hold me for a zealot. The word God does not fall easily from my lips and I often consider whether I have a right to write it here and there. My nature is such that I cannot accept something sight unseen, I must examine, investigate, come to my own judgement —and that is how it has been with God, and in this case, the process is also not yet complete.
I don’t believe that God keeps track of every person’s least misstep. Man moves with certain limits according to his own will. Unquestionably, how man moves and all of the important, decisive things in life, that is not in our hands. I believe that this world runs according to a divine law and plan and that we human beings are included in this plan.
I do not believe that God has an ear for the more or less thousands upon thousands of foolish requests of men. If we call to him in our need, then prayer can bring us strength and certainty, like this:
The plans of God and Men face each other, run next to one another, and often enough also run contrary to each other. God’s will is stronger and his plan will be executed. (They do well who can bring their will into harmony with God’s.) When we turn to God in need and distress, then we are in fact confessing our powerlessness and perplexity, we must come down from our pride, as humiliating as it is, and in the process our defiance breaks, our own tough free will —and then we are once again receptive for the will of God, we once again sense the fine, invisible signs of his guidance. Every correct prayer ends with the request: may your will be done!
Music has always faithfully stood at my side as a great solace. From my perspective, it is a song by Franz Schubert that best expresses appreciation to the fairest of arts. I unfortunately do not have it at hand at the moment. I will write down the text for you another time, and sing the song for you at some appropriate time. You have a good talent for music, I have observed that. Sustaining a close relationship with this art by playing music yourself, if I may be so modest, helps pass the empty and gloomy hours.
What led you to me? I ask myself and I asked you, holding in abeyance all of the doubts that one can harbor in matters of love. How could you hold to me even though I presented you with nary an encouraging glance, spoke scarcely an encouraging word? The truth certainly lies in your transcribed, imprecise answer. And so I ask myself:
How could you be successful in loosening my tongue, how can I trust you? If I give you an answer and you praise me for it, then will you not catch sight of a schoolmaster’s nature that must dispense grades everywhere rather than my free and honest recognition? With this recognition, I do not wish to hold back in order to take from you the feeling of being pitied, and to make you proud of what you should be proud:
I could talk to you
Because you were so kind
Because you were so courageous
And because you understood what many people do not understand: coming together freely.
This much I had already undertaken beforehand:
In matters of love, I will act freely, I will also not let myself be cajoled primarily by my parents — and I will only negotiate with a person who similarly stands freely before me, who does not seek to ensnare me with her wiles, who does not bring other people into play, even if it is her parents, no—she has to want to get closer to me to examine the matter together with me in all seriousness, although that also means courageously confronting the possibility the examination itself thwarts the desires from which it sprang.
What you say in at the end of your last letter comes from a great, noble heart. And so I offer you my hand in friendship, saying what I have followed for all of my other relationships:
I do wish to get to know you. We can no longer completely disappear from each other’s lives. We have shared things that one does with only with a few people and—I say it to you with appreciation—I have shared these things to my benefit.
Please tell me if the dates for your vacation have already been set so I can consider these details in my suggestions.