Truth, true love and beloved eternity
From the Confessions of St. Augustine
Urged to reflect upon myself, I entered under your guidance the
innermost places of my being; but only because you had become my
helper was I able to do so. I entered, then, and with the vision
of my spirit, such as it was, I saw the incommutable light far
above my spiritual ken and transcending my mind: not this common
light which every carnal eye can see, nor any light of the same
order; but greater, as though this common light were shining
much more powerfully, far more brightly, and so extensively as
to fill the universe. The light I saw was not the common light
at all, but something different, utterly different, from all
those things. Nor was it higher than my mind in the sense that
oil floats on water or the sky is above the earth; it was
exalted because this very light made me, and I was below it
because by it I was made. Anyone who knows truth knows this
O eternal Truth, true Love, and beloved Eternity, you are my
God, and for you I sigh day and night. As I first began to know
you, you lifted me up and showed me that, while that which I
might see exists indeed, I was not yet capable of seeing it.
Your rays beamed intensely on me, beating back my feeble gaze,
and I trembled with love and dread. I knew myself to be far away
from you in a region of unlikeness, and I seemed to hear your
voice from on high: “I am the food of the mature: grow, then,
and you shall eat me. You will not change me into yourself like
bodily food; but you will be changed into me”.
Accordingly I looked for a way to gain the strength I needed to
enjoy you, but I did not find it until I embraced the mediator
between God and man, the man Christ Jesus, who is also God,
supreme over all things and blessed for ever. He called out,
proclaiming I am the Way and Truth and the Life, nor had I known
him as the food which, though I was not yet strong enough to eat
it, he had mingled with our flesh, for the Word became flesh so
that your Wisdom, through whom you created all things, might
become for us the milk adapted to our infancy.
Late have I loved you, Beauty so ancient and so new, late have I
Lo, you were within,
but I outside, seeking there for you,
and upon the shapely things you have made
I rushed headlong – I, misshapen.
You were with me, but I was not with you.
They held me back far from you,
those things which would have no being,
were they not in you.
You called, shouted, broke through my deafness;
you flared, blazed, banished my blindness;
you lavished your fragrance, I gasped; and now I pant for you;
I tasted you, and now I hunger and thirst;
you touched me, and I burned for your peace.