Confessions: I Sought You Not With The Mind’s Understanding
This was while I sought you, my God…, while I sought you not with the mind’s understanding… but according to my flesh’s perceptions. You, however, were deeper inside me than my deepest depths and higher than my greatest heights.— Saint Augustine, Confessions 3.11
I have heard people say God is like the wind; it can be felt but not seen. Without taking away from this statement, a precaution must be added. Although wind can be felt at all times, God cannot. The world is not always just, beautiful, or ordered. Most times the world is unjust, grotesque, and chaotic. God being like wind must not be understood for more than it is: an analogy. Otherwise, we will presume we can seek God solely through fleshly perceptions.
How does one perceive God’s omnipotence, omniscience, immutability, immanence, and holiness? It cannot be done in the flesh, it must be done in the mind. Unlimited and unrestricted power, wisdom, nature, presence, and beauty are things that must first be perceived by the mind before they can be seen in the world and experienced in the flesh.
Soul, perceive with your mind, and your flesh will follow. That you may say with Augustine, “You, however, were deeper inside me than my deepest depths and higher than my greatest heights.”
Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.—Psalm 145:3 (ESV)
Holy One of Israel, may my whole soul search for you; mind and flesh.
Note: These are my daily reflections as I go through Saint Agustine's Confessions. Unless otherwise noted, I am using Sarah Ruden's translation of the original text, and the NIV.