Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Write in the HISTORICAL genre (05/03/07)
TITLE: TO MY MOST BELOVED
By Sharlyn Guthrie
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It is with heaviness of heart that I await my return passage to Carthage on this first day of summer of the year of our Lord three hundred and eighty five. Can it be that thirteen years have passed so swiftly and now must end?
I gaze at Adeodatus, our “gift from God,” as he strolls the dock, and affirm what I know is true. At twelve, he is nearly as tall as I. Shall I ever know the full stature our son attains? After my ship leaves the harbor and when the ink has dried upon these leaves of papyrus he shall deliver my parting thoughts into your hands .
I can scarcely imagine life without my precious Adeodatus. He needs a father, of course, and he shall have the better life with you and your Christian wife. You must see that he respects her. I have petitioned God to remove from me all jealousy and malice. Yet my heart is rent to shreds as I am sent away. It is almost more than I can bear.
It was never my intention to love you. We were young and I knew full well my low estate. And yet you treated me with respect and kindness. I daresay you loved me, too.
The tears that now flow as freely as the ink of my pen are not bitter tears, but grateful ones. Thirteen years of love and passion is more than I ever dreamed possible, though I knew from the beginning it could not last. For you, my beloved, are a man of integrity and honor; and I a mere concubine. The Christian marriage your mother has arranged shall assure your success, while I am but a hindrance to you.
You have taught me to look to God for strength, and so I shall continue in the way of faith. Since I cannot be properly wed, I take this day a pledge of celibacy before God. Though others may judge me for my past sins, God is the only true judge and I, even I, a lowly concubine, have found favor in His eyes. This is a great and marvelous mystery.
Selfishness causes me to hope that you shall not forget me; but forget me you must if you are to look fully and unashamedly upon the face of God. I pray His blessings on your home and your marriage, and that you shall be useful to His service.
Fare thee well always, and pray for me; but do not grieve, most dearly beloved and holy man of God.
You are forever in my heart.
Aurelius Augustine spoke highly of his unidentified concubine, grieving her departure and admitting his shame in abandoning her for his own welfare, even though that was the accepted practice of the day. He immediately took up with another woman while waiting for his Christian bride to “come of age.” His lust and lack of restraint weighed heavily on him, however, and as he grew in his faith he determined to take a pledge of monastic celibacy instead of marrying the young girl to whom he was betrothed.
Eventually, Aurelius Augustine became Augustine, Bishop of Hippo. He was canonized in 1303. The Confessions, available in many translations and adaptations, continue to inspire true believers everywhere to come humbly and often before the throne of God.
Saint Augustine, translated by Maria Boulding O.S.B., (2006) The Confessions (7th ed.). New York: New City Press, pp. 156-157.
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