Empty Days

Monday, September 12, 2005



St. Augustine - Confessions.
Time never lapses, nor does it glide at leisure through our sense perceptions. It does strange things in the mind. Lo, time came and went from day to day, and by coming and going it brought to my mind other ideas and remembrances, and little by little they patched me up again with earlier kinds of pleasure and my sorrow yielded a bit to them. But yet there followed after this sorrow, not other sorrows just like it, but the causes of other sorrows. For why had that first sorrow so easily penetrated to the quick except that I had poured out my soul onto the dust, by loving a man as if he would never die who nevertheless had to die?

What revived and refreshed me, more than anything else, was the consolation of other friends, with whom I went on loving the things I loved instead of thee. This was a monstrous fable and a tedious lie which was corrupting my soul with its "itching ears"[99] by its adulterous rubbing. And that fable would not die to me as often as one of my friends died. And there were other things in our companionship that took strong hold of my mind: to discourse and jest with him; to indulge in courteous exchanges; to read pleasant books together; to trifle together; to be earnest together; to differ at times without ill-humor, as a man might do with himself, and even through these infrequent dissensions to find zest in our more frequent agreements; sometimes teaching, sometimes being taught; longing for someone absent with impatience and welcoming the homecomer with joy. These and similar tokens of friendship, which spring spontaneously from the hearts of those who love and are loved in return -- in countenance, tongue, eyes, and a thousand ingratiating gestures -- were all so much fuel to melt our souls together, and out of the many made us one.
[Book 4, ch.8]
It's not so much a book of Confessions as a book on Conversion. It's about emptiness underlying a seeming fullness of life and how one was led out of this desert - from within and not from without. But why and how really remains unknown.
Let the proud laugh at me, and those who have not yet been savingly cast down and stricken by thee, O my God.(...) For what am I to myself without thee but a guide to my own downfall? Or what am I, even at the best, but one suckled on thy milk and feeding on thee, O Food that never perishes?
[Book 4, ch.1]
For a good many years I meant to read this book as I heard good things of it - but it is only now that this finally seems very much to the point.





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