Etty Hillesum, Sunday Morning Prayer

“Dear God, these are anxious times. Tonight for the first time I lay in the dark with burning eyes as scene after scene of human suffering passed before me. I shall promise You one thing, God, just one very small thing. I shall never burden my today with cares about my tomorrow, although that takes some practice. Each day is sufficient unto itself.

I shall try to help You, God, to stop my strength ebbing away, though I cannot vouch for it in advance. But one thing is becoming increasingly clear to me: that You cannot help us, that we must help You to help ourselves. And that is all we can manage these days and also all that really matters: that we safeguard that little piece of You, God, in ourselves. And perhaps in others as well.

Alas, there doesn’t seem to be much You Yourself can do about our circumstances, about our lives. Neither do I hold you responsible. You cannot help us, but we must help You and defend Your dwelling place inside us to the last.

There are, it is true, some who, even at this last stage, are putting their vacuum cleaners and silver forks and spoons in safekeeping instead of guarding You, dear God. And there are those who want to put their bodies in safekeeping but who are nothing more now than a shelter for a thousand fears and bitter feelings. And they say, ‘I shan’t let them get me into their clutches.’ But they forget that no one is in their clutches who is in Your arms.

I am beginning to feel a little more peaceful, God, thanks to this conversation with You. I shall have many more conversations with You. You are sure to go through lean times with me now and then, when my faith weakens a little, but believe me, I always labor for You and remain faithful to You and I shall never drive You from my presence.”

(From Etty Hillesum: An Interrupted Life and Letters from Westerbork, Henry Holt and Company, Inc, 1996, p 178.)