Augustine was born in 354 A.D. to a pagan father and a Christian mother. Although his mother had a heavy influence, the young Augustine embraced his father’s paganism and lived a famously wild lifestyle for his entire early adulthood — resulting in one of his most famous lines, “Lord, give me chastity, but not yet.”
He finally converted to Christianity at the age of 31 and was ordained a priest just five years later. And not long after that, he was appointed the bishop of Hippo in modern day Algeria.
As bishop, Augustine was a prolific writer on a range of subjects. He’s credited with developing the intellectual framework that enabled the expansion of Christianity in the centuries that followed.
For our inspiration today, we’re looking at a piece that speaks to Augustine’s delayed embrace of God. It’s an excerpt from his groundbreaking book, Confessions, and it’s titled “I Came to Love You Too Late.”
I CAME TO LOVE YOU TOO LATE
By Saint Augustine
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 for you. I drove like an ugly madman against the beautiful things and beings you made. You were in fact inside me, but I was not inside you. Those same things kept me at some distance from you, even though those things, had they not been inside you, would not have existed at all. You called to me and cried to me; you broke the bowl of my deafness; you uncovered my 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.
FOR ADDITIONAL READING: See On the Road With Saint Augustine: A Real-World Spirituality for Restless Hearts by James Smith
More spiritual nuggets for today …
On this day in 1952, Elizabeth II succeeded her father, George VI, to the British throne.
She was 25 years old at the time and unprepared for the demands of the monarchy. But she learned on the job and today marks her sixty-ninth year on the throne — making her history’s longest-serving female head of state and the world’s longest-reigning current monarch.
As queen, Elizabeth also serves as the Supreme Governor and Defender of the Faith of the Church of England. Although the Archbishop of Canterbury remains the head cleric of the church, at her coronation Elizabeth took an oath to “maintain and preserve inviolably the settlement of the Church of England, and the doctrine worship, discipline, and government thereof, as by law established in England.”
By all appearances, Elizabeth takes her role as the head of the Anglican church seriously. She frequently references faith when she addresses the public and we saw a small glimpse of her thoughts on the value of faith in her 2013 Christmas message where she said:
“For Christians, as for all people of faith, reflection, meditation and prayer help us to renew ourselves in God’s love, as we strive daily to become better people …”
Today is also the birthday of the musician, Bob Marley, in 1945.
His father was a 60-year-old British naval captain named Norval Marley, while his mother was a 19-year-old Jamaican girl from the country. His father only met him once before returning to England, but because of his mixed racial background, Marley was bullied and nicknamed “White Boy” by his peers. The experience contributed to his outlook on race and later said:
“I’m not on the white man’s side or the Black man’s side. I’m on God’s side.”
As a child, Marley developed an eerie reputation for successfully reading people’s palms. But when he was seven years old, after spending a year living in Kingston’s ghettos, he declared to his friends and family that his destiny was to be a singer, and he stopped reading palms altogether.
Marley is best known as a pioneer of reggae, and he’s largely responsible for introducing Jamaican music to global audiences. But he was also a passionate advocate of Rastafarianism, a religion that developed in Jamaica in the 1930s.
Featuring the combined traits of both a religious and social movement, Rastafarianism originated within the country’s impoverished and socially disenfranchised Afro-Jamaican communities. Marley infused his music with Rastafari spirituality and it became a key element of the reggae genre itself.
Finally, today’s happy thought comes to us from Saint Augustine once again:
“Since love grows within you, so beauty grows. For love is the beauty of the soul.”
And that’s today’s Spiritual Almanac.
Thanks for listening. Be kind, take good care and I’ll see you tomorrow.