I have had several encouraging conversations with many of you, the alumni of the Soul Care Institute. What a deep blessing it is to hear about the ongoing path of transformation you are on. Our prayer is that you would not just learn what it means to care for your soul, but you would be living this, as best as you can, day to day.
We all would agree that the one thing that seems to keep getting in the way of caring for our soul is…..life! Right? Steve Smith, in a recent Potter’s Inn article, shared a brief quote from “The Confessions of St. Augustine,” (I’m sure you remember that book and the stick-to-it-ivness that it took to wade through this great work). There really are so many insightful nuggets buried in this epic writing of St. Augustine. Here is one that I would like to remind you of:
“Late have I loved you, o Beauty ever old, ever new, late have I loved you. You were within me, and I was outside myself and it was there that I sought you and, myself disfigured, I rushed upon the beautiful things you have made. You were with me but I was not with you. They held me far from you, those things which would not exist if they did not exist in you. You called, you cried out and you broke through my deafness, you shone out, cast your radiance and put my blindness to flight, you shed your fragrance and I drew breath and pine for you, I tasted you and so I hunger and thirst for you, you touched me and I burn with love of your peace.” (Confessions 10.27.38)
Augustine has described in beautiful prose the battle we fight. All that is life outside of us; work, career, ministry, family, relatives, relationships, etc seem to pull us away from the life that is inside of us. All good and wonderful. Thanks be to God that we have families, spouses, meaningful ministries, and careers. As Augustine says they are “the beautiful things that you have made”. But they can “hold us far from you”.
So how do we live in this dynamic tension of life inside and life outside? It seems Augustine is encouraging us to do two things: listen and pay attention. Listen for his voice, the voice of love that calls and cries to you, breaking through your deafness. Along with listening for his voice, pay attention to his presence in your midst. His presence and his voice cast his radiance upon us and puts our blindness to flight. We smell the fragrant aroma of him and we pine for more. Friends, may this be true for us. May we not be like Augustine who seems to say he waited too long to embrace his belovedness.