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Monday, April 27, 2009

Letters from Scotland - 6

The picture today shows the isle of Iona.

Dear Helen,
The textbook for the religion class in my second year of secondary education was called Hart’s Christian Doctrine. Each chapter began with a quote. The first chapter of our new book began with St Augustine’s: "Our hearts are restless till they rest in Thee." Discussing this in essay form was the homework set for one evening. Using all the experience of my thirteen years I put my heart and soul into conjuring up every reason why nothing in this life could satisfy and why we would find heart-rest only in eternity. The essay could easily have been entitled "No rest for the wicked except that humor did not abound in those days. At the end of it the teacher penciled VG...but was it? With that little treatise I think I somehow distanced God from me and constructed an image of God for myself as one who demands restless yearning along with the realization that this life could only be unsatisfying. Only years later would I come to know that our image of God must change and grow and this proved a challenge involving much inner work.
Your re-acquainting me with St Augustine during your course was a source of grace and growth for me. My childish essay came back to me and in one of those sudden moments of insight I realized that resting in God need not be only the end goal of life but we could rest in Him in the here and now. Perhaps for the first time the gift of resting my heart in the Heart of God became a longed for reality and some of that self constructed distance of separation and longing disappeared.
Augustine’s other famous quote "Late Have I Loved Thee" now took over as a prayer of peace in me. Late have I loved Thee, O my Lord. Late have I rested my heart in Thee.
And so with Augustine we came to the end of our first semester. You had guided us through five hundred years of Christian spirituality and I had begun the shortest and yet the longest journey of all - from head to heart.
Your Student, Jane.

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