I received your dear letter while still in Speyer, but there was no time to answer it. I celebrated Christmas in Würzburg with two Dominican sisters from Speyer who are studying there. I have been here since the day before yesterday.
Now I would like to bring you a little joy on New Year’s Day with the long letter you have wished for.
I hope you will not be unhappy that, in spite of your request, I continue [to address you with the formal pronoun] “You.” I hope you do not feel I do it on “moral” grounds. I would really like to have granted the small favor.
However, it would have been insincere because that is not the way I feel about it and you would not want something like that. Perhaps the Polish feeling for language is different than the German.
For me, the familiar form of address is closely related to the warmth of the family, and in my life, it just no longer fits outside that context.
Think of it this way: I am surrounded by invisible cell walls. The love that is not of this world passes right through these walls and through all material walls for it knows no limits of time and space. However, the walls keep other kinds of love at a distance.
I am very sorry if that hurts you, but I cannot change it. With you, it is the same as with my dear ones here. I have the sincere desire to do everything to love them, to act and behave naturally just as they expect from a good daughter, sister, and aunt, but nevertheless, they feel it differently.
All the best wishes for the New Year for the entire family!
Saint Edith Stein
Letter to Roman Ingarden (excerpts)
29 December 1929
Stein, E. 2014, Edith Stein: Letters to Roman Ingarden, translated from the German by Hunt, H, ICS Publications, Washington DC.
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