Madonna House

When There Is No Solution

by Caryll Houselander

Dear __________,

Stop trying to think out a solution for the moment; there isn’t one. One day there may be; God will then show it to you. In the meantime, accept it all as being the big thing for God and his Church that he asks of you—that, and the depression, too.

You will find the relief of merely accepting instead of struggling, wonderful. And I include in this, accepting anything in yourself, during the crisis, which seems to you a failure or fault.

Don’t exonerate yourself, but just say you are sorry, briefly, to God, and add that your name is dirt—that’s what is to be expected from you—but you’re sorry, you are forgiven, and it is over.

During the war, I was simply terrified by air raids, and it was my lot to be in every one that happened in London—sometimes on the roofs of these flats, sometimes in the hospital …. I tried to build up my courage by reason and prayer, etc.

Then one day I realized quite suddenly: as long as I try not to be afraid, I shall be worse, and I shall show it one day and break. What God is asking of me to do for suffering humanity is to be afraid, to accept it and put up with it, as one has to put up with pain (if it’s not drugable) or anything else.

I am not going to get out of any of the suffering. From the time the siren goes until the All Clear, I am going to be simply frightened stiff, and that’s what I’ve got to do for the world—offer that to God, because it is that and nothing else which he asks of me.

From The Letters of Caryll Houselander: Her Spiritual Legacy (1965) Sheed & Ward