Part of my Mother’s Day gift from my daughter and husband this year was a book titled, For Lovers of God Everywhere: Poems of the Christian Mystics, a title that gives more than a hint of the book’s contents. The book contains poets of both the Western and Eastern Christian traditions, spanning the years from the Desert Fathers to contemporary voices. The poems are accompanied by short commentaries by Roger Housden, who put together the collection.
One of the first poems I opened to is a beautiful poem of longing written by St. Augustine, which I had not before been familiar with. It is titled, I Came to Love You Too Late. In it, Augustine comes to a realization that is importnat to all of us – that the God we seek has been inside of us all along. He writes
I came to love you too late, Oh Beauty,
so ancient and so new. Yes,
I came to love you too late. What did I know?
You were inside me, and I was
out of my body and mind, looking
I drove like an ugly madman against
the beautiful things and beings
You were in inside me, but I was not inside you….
You called to me and cried to me; you broke the bowl
of my deafness; you uncovered your beams, and threw them
at me; you rejected my blindness; you blew a fragrant wind
on me, and
I sucked in my breath and wanted you; I tasted you
and now I want you as I want food and water; you
touched me, and I have been burning ever since to
have your peace.