“Yes to Life” – Moltmann’s Response to St. Augustine

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January 6, 2015 by jmw

“One evening I read the following passage in Augustine’s Confessions:

But what do I love when I love you? Not the beauty of any body or the rhythm of time in its movement; not the radiance of light, so dear to our eyes; not the sweet melodies in the world of manifold sounds; not the perfume of flowers, ointments and spices; not manna and not honey; not the limbs so delightful to the body’s embrace: it is none of those things that I love when I love my God. And yet when I love my God I do indeed love a light and a sound and a perfume and a food and an embrace – a light and sound an perfume and food and embrace in my inward self. There my soul is flooded with a radiance which no space can contain; there a music sounds which time never bears away; there I smell a perfume which no wind disperses; there I taste a food that no surfeit embitters; there is an embrace which no satiety severs. It is this that I love when I love my God.

And that night I answered him:

When I love God I love the beauty of bodies, the rhythm of movements, the shining of eyes, the embraces, the feelings, the scents, the sounds of all this protean creation. When I love you, my God, I want to embrace it all, for I love you with all my senses in the creations of your love. In all the things that encounter me, you are waiting for me.

For a long time I looked for you within myself and crept into the shell of my soul, shielding myself with an armour of inapproachability. But you were outside – outside myself – and enticed me out of the narrowness of my heart into the broad place of love for life. So I cam out of myself and found my soul in my senses, and my own self in others.

The experience of God deepens the experiences of life. It does not reduce them. For it awakens the unconditional Yes to life. The more I love God, the more I gladly exist. The more immediately and wholly I exist, the more I sense the living God, the inexhaustible source of life and eternal livingness.”

(from Jürgen Moltmann, A Broad Place: An Autobiography, 350 )

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