Do You Ever Get a Busy Signal When You Call God?
Author’s note: It’s Fr. Hilton’s birthday!
The Confessions of St. Augustine (Week 15 of 15)
Do You Ever Get a Busy Signal when You Call God?
I’d like to tell you I read this chapter twice, gleaning wisdom and insight. I’d love to be bursting with questions about this that would spur discussion and intellectual stimulation. I’d prefer to be sipping a cool drink and gently pointing out the hidden gems Augustine has laid out in this last chapter.
The reality is that I’m nodding off as I type, proof that I’m doing about three too many things these days. The baby’s happily chattering away, oblivious to the fact that the book he’s trying to chew on is a classic work of literature that nearly broke his mom’s brain.
And maybe that’s what we have this week, a reminder that we find God in the reality:
I call upon you, my God, my mercy (Ps. 58:18). You made me and, when I forget you, you did not forget me. I call you into my soul which you are preparing to receive you through the longing which you have inspired in it. Do not desert me now that I am calling on you. Before I called to you, you were there before me.
Confessions, Book XIII, Chapter i, Paragraph 1
Recently, I’ve found myself calling on God in a special way. I have a specific intention that has persisting like the widow who won’t leave the judge alone (see Luke 18). I’ve prayed novenas, I’ve paused throughout the day, I’ve fasted.
Maybe I’m doing all this for a big fat “no.” Maybe all this prayer and preparation is so that I can accept that the answer is different than what I want it to be.
And that makes me think of the fields around my house. When I tell people I live in the middle of a corn field, I’m not being metaphorical, and I’m not exaggerating. This time of year, when the corn is over eight feet tall in a waving privacy fence, we can’t even watch for the school bus from the garage: we can’t see it coming!
In the spring, the fields are hard and bare after the winter’s freezing and thawing action. They’re a vast expanse of brown, a horizon broken by fencerows of scrub trees and barns.
And then the farmers come out, once conditions are right, and work the ground. The smell is something visceral: fresh dirt and warm wind and opportunity. Next is fertilizer in great swaths from the sprayers, and then, planting.
The conditions for planting are a delicate balance of ground temperature, moisture level, and luck.
But when those first few green shoots peek out, ruler-straight, marching as far as I can see, there’s hope. Again.
My soul has been through this process over and over. I keep thinking my conversion will be done, that I’ll have a story to tell, but the chapters keep adding on; the story is not finished.
I’m not going to ever be “done,” I’ve realized.
My God, give me yourself, restore yourself to me. See, I love you, and if it is too little, let me love you more strongly. I can conceive no measure by which to know how far my love falls short of that which is enough to make my life run to your embraces, and not to turn away until it lies hidden ‘in the secret place of your presence’ (Ps. 30:21). This alone I know: without you it is evil for me, not only in external things but within my being, and all my abundance which is other than my God is mere indigence.
Confessions, Book XIII, Chapter viii, Paragraph 3
Help me love you, God, the way you deserve to be loved. Make me who you want me to be. Let this book, which felt way over my head, sink in and lead me closer to the truths you have for me.
NOTE: This is our last week of Confessions! Beginning September 8, we’re taking a break that will last through all of September. Then, we will gather together again beginning October 6 to begin our next adventure: Finding God Through Meditation by St. Peter of Alcántara, edited by our own Dan Burke.
1. When do you call God? How do you experience his interaction with you?
2. How, when, and where do you seek God? In what ways does He restore himself to you?
Feel free to comment on anything from our assignment this past week!
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