Saturday, August 05, 2006

Please LORD, Help me

"I was astonished that although I now loved you . . . I did not persist in enjoyment of my God. Your beauty drew me to you, but soon I was dragged away from you by my own weight and in dismay I plunged again into the things of this world . . . as though I had sensed the fragrance of the fare but was not yet able to eat it." Aurelius Augustine, Confessions, trans. R. S. Pine-Coffin (New York: Penguin, 1961), 152 (VII.17).

2 comments:

Laurel Audrey Taylor said...

I love that Augustine quote... it relates not only to my daily experience of life but also to everything I've been reading and studying for my thesis. It's weird... I've been reading some Anne Sexton poems recently, one that I think express Augustine's exact sentiments in that quote, and one that even refers to him directly:

"The Saints come,
as human as a mouth,

[...]

Saint Augustine said:
God, make me chaste,
but not yet.
The party had not begun.
The food was there, the drinks were there
but the people were waiting at the door
to be let in,
waiting as Augustine was waiting
with their open mouths
like the beaks of nestlings."

I really like this next poem... it shows how our agonizing hunger for God and confession of unworthiness leads to an emptiness of self, which allows Him to fill us and feed others through us:

"Someone brought me oranges in my despair
but I could not eat a one
for God was in that orange.
I could not touch what did not belong to me.

[...]

I kept saying:
I've got to have something to hold on to.
People gave me Bibles, crucifixes,
a yellow daisy,
but I could not touch them,
I who was a house full of bowel movement,
I who was a defaced altar,
I who wanted to crawl toward God
could not move nor eat bread.

So I ate myself,
bite by bite,
and the tears washed me,
wave after cowardly wave,
swallowing canker after canker
and Jesus stood over me looking down
and He laughed to find me gone,
and put His mouth to mine
and gave me His air.

My kindred, my brother, I said
and gave the yellow daisy
to the crazy woman in the next bed."

And here's one I wrote... obviously not as brilliant poetically as Sexton's, but for what it's worth:

I spilled afternoon
wine on Augustine,

wine of all things
worth spilling

being philosophical,
indelible as grace.

I think there
were hints of pear,

and this time children
sang take and drink.

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