“What is it that I love in loving You? Not physical beauty, nor the splendor of time, nor the radiance of the light, so pleasant to our eyes, nor the sweet melodies of songs of all kinds, nor the flagrant smell of flowers, and ointments, and spices, nor manna and honey, nor limbs pleasant to the embraces of the flesh. I do not love these things when I love my God.
And yet I love a certain kind of light, sound, fragrance, food, and embrace in loving my God; for He is the light, sound, fragrance, food, and embrace of my inner man. There, a light shines upon my soul which no place can contain, and a sound is heard which time cannot snatch away. There breathes a fragrance which no breeze can disperse, a food which no eating can diminish, and an embrace which no fullness of satisfaction can dissolve. This is what I love, when I love my God.
And what is He? I asked the earth; and it answered, ‘I am not He.’ And everything on earth made the same confession. I asked the sea and the deeps, and the creeping things that lived, and they replied, ‘We are not your God. Seek higher than we.’ I asked the breezy air; and the universal atmosphere with its inhabitants answered, ‘I am not God.’ I asked the heavens, the sun, moon, and stars: ‘Neither,’ they said, ‘are we the God whom you seek.’
And I answered all these things which crowd about the door of my flesh, ‘You have told me concerning my God that you are not He. Tell me something positive about Him!’ And with a loud voice they exclaimed: ‘He made us.’”
–Aurelius Augustine, Confessions, X.vi. Trans. R.S. Pine-Coffin (New York: Penguin, 1961), 212.