I have often been afraid to think
of Augustine thinking, his mind a field,
he confesses, that must be worked with much cost
and sweat, and he the farmer laboring.
Just knowing how little one can know
is enough for most, but not Augustine—
whatever crept around in his mind had no right
to privacy. He kept on harrowing
himself, turning the dark soil to the sun.
He was often overcome by the strangeness
of his memory which could remember
what he had lost, or at least forgotten—
a happiness he knew was surely real,
even if he had no way of knowing it
until it took root in the soil he was preparing.
I have often counted the efforts I’ve taken—
meditation, daily prayer, self-examination—
thinking I was preparing my own field.
And yet when I think of Augustine, I know
just how self-satisfied I have been,
that field so much vaster than my little self,
so much richer if only I could truly begin
the harrowing work, if only I could remember
the harvest Augustine knew was always waiting.
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.