The Power of A Single Word, ‘Existence’

It was about the meaning of existence, he said. All right. She knew a little bit about existence. That was pretty well the only things she knew about, and she had learned the word for it from him. It was like the United States of America — they had to call it something. The evening and the morning, sleeping and waking. Hunger and lonelinesss and weariness and still wanting more of it. Existence. Why do I bother? He couldn’t tell her that either. But he knows, she could see it in him….

Marilynne Robinson Lila page 74

She told the old man she’d been thinking about existence, that time they were out walking, and he didn’t laugh. Could she have these thoughts if she had never learned the word? “The mystery of existence.” From hearing him preach. He must have mentioned it at least once a week. She wished she’d known about it sooner, or at least known there was a name for it She used to be afraid she was the only one in the world who couldn’t make sense of things. Why that shame had come down on her, out of nowhere.

Marilynne Robinson, Lila page 178

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