In a talk at the General Chapter of the Augustinians the Holy Father talked of restlessness. He was commenting on St. Augustine’s famous quote from his autobiography Confessions: ‘You made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.’ Though this meeting took place in late August, his comments seem to me so appropriate right now. The fall, to me, brings a wanderlust into my being. The changing of the weather, the color of the trees, the obvious effects of time seem to make me want to go out and wander. Fall brings a restlessness into me, I want to see what else it out there. I can’t help but wonder if it isn’t also the knowledge of my life flowing past me, the natural course of our time in this reality. But mixed with this restlessness is an uneasiness about the unknown future and the desire to have a solid base on which to rest – I want to be safe and want to know that I will always be safe.
The Holy Father said of St. Augustine: ‘it was this very restlessness in his heart which brought him to a personal encounter with Christ, brought him to understand that the remote God he was seeking was the God who is close to every human being, the God close to our heart, who was ‘more inward than my innermost self’’
It is so easy to go outward and search what is over the next hill. Though it may seem like a journey of exploration, one that will satiate the wanderlust we feel, it is also an escape from the ultimate exploration: God and each of us. To turn inward, as St. Augustine finally realized, was the greatest of journeys. To turn ourselves within and search the God of our true happiness was and is, the true exploration that we are made for. It isn’t easy; to do so we need to get to the truth about ourselves, the absolute truth of who we are – without our self-created blinders and filters, for that is where we will find God. We probably won’t like what we see, but this is who God knows us as, and in spite of this He is willing to reside there, to wait for us to journey to Him and to acknowledge how much we need Him. He, in turn, will then lead us, the real us, into His peace; help us become restful instead of restless – or as so beautifully proclaimed in one of the Communion Antiphons for today: ‘You will show me the path of life, the fullness of joy in your presence, O Lord.’