August 8, 2011

“I Asked the Sea and the Deeps…”


This is more or less what I was trying to think while sitting beside a restless sea on a cloudy but pleasant August afternoon…

Not with doubting, but with assured consciousness, do I love Thee, Lord. Thou hast stricken my heart with Thy word, and I loved Thee. Yea also heaven and earth, and all that therein is, behold on every side they bid me love Thee; nor cease to say so unto all, that they may be without excuse. But more deeply wilt Thou have mercy on whom Thou wilt have mercy, and wilt have compassion on whom Thou hast had compassion: [Rom. i. 20; ix. 15] else in deaf ears do the heaven and the earth speak Thy praises. But what do I love, when I love Thee? not beauty of bodies, nor the fair harmony of time, nor the brightness of the light, so gladsome to our eyes, nor sweet melodies of varied songs, nor the fragrant smell of flowers, and ointments, and spices, not manna and honey, not limbs acceptable to embracements of flesh. None of these I love, when I love my God; and yet I love a kind of light, and melody, and fragrance, and meat, and embracement when I love my God, the light, melody, fragrance, meat, embracement of my inner man: where there shineth unto my soul what space cannot contain and there soundeth what time beareth not away, and there smelleth what breathing disperseth not, and there tasteth what eating diminisheth not, and there clingeth what satiety divorceth not. This is it which I love when I love my God.

And what is this? I asked the earth, and it answered me, ‘I am not He;’ and whatsoever are in it confessed the same. I asked the sea and the deeps, and the living creeping things, and they answered, ‘We are not Thy God, seek above us.’ I asked the moving air; and the whole air with his inhabitants answered, ‘Anaximenes was deceived, I am not God.’ I asked the heavens, sun, moon, stars, ‘Nor (say they) are we the God whom thou seekest.’ And I replied unto all the things which encompass the door of my flesh: ‘Ye have told me of my God, that ye are not He; tell me something of Him.’ And they cried out with a loud voice, ‘He made us.’ My questioning them, was my thoughts on them: and their form of beauty gave the answer. And I turned myself unto myself, and said to myself, ‘Who art thou?’ And I answered, ‘A man.’ And behold, in me there present themselves to me soul, and body, one without, the other within. By which of these ought I to seek my God? I had sought Him in the body from earth to heaven, so far as I could send messengers, the beams of mine eyes. But the better is the inner, for to it as presiding and judging, all the bodily messengers reported the answers of heaven and earth, and all things therein, who said, ‘We are not God, but He made us.’ These things did my inner man know by the ministry of the outer: I the inner knew them; I, the mind, through the senses of my body. I asked the whole frame of the world about my God; and it answered me, ‘I am not He, but He made me.’



~ Augustine of Hippo, Confessions (Tenth Book)




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