We sat out under the stars next to a warm wood fire the night before last, not knowing that we would be visited by a meteor shower; a new one, at that, which had never been viewed before. I saw about twenty-five good bright streaks. Cold December nights, if one can bear to be outdoors, are the best for viewing heavenly bodies. Meteors are there for my viewing all the time, if I only I make the effort to go look. Cold and dry winter air gives me a more true view of the night sky. My brother-in-law, who lives in the Sierras, is more accustomed to being out in cold, so when I know he is coming down from the mountains, I stack up some firewood, and fill my propane tanks, so we can sit out at night and enjoy the luxury of warmth. The effort involved in preparing for a winter evening of stargazing can have a huge pay back.

The cold stayed with us into the next day. I am so accustomed to wearing shorts and sandals. I had to dress warmer and skipped my habit of going for a long walk. I spent much of yesterday parked near the indoor fireplace. I picked up my Kindle, looked at all the books I own and have not read, and decided to begin where I had let off with Maria Boulding’s translation of Augustine’s Confessions. I bought it sometime within the past year and let it sit their idly. Sometimes when I do that I forget why I even bought a book in the first place. Maybe because I had read a review that struck me in the right way? The cold outdoors made me think I would be able to devote most of the day to Augustine’s beautiful words, but I know now that I need several more cold days close to the fire before I can really understand his full intent.

He tells me I have an inner life, a soul, that is divine. When cleared of all disruption, and he gives a quite thorough explanation of how to do so, this inner life allows me to communicate with God. Other early western traditions said that the individual soul has no immortality, but dissipates into nothing when I depart this life. That would be a really cold day. I’m going to have to read Confessions more than once to get a better grasp. Maybe his ideas have some match with my own experience. This new translation moves an ancient voice forward for me to better hear.

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