I’m most grateful to Augustine for the education he offers in graceful leave-taking. (And, after all, when are we ever not saying goodbye?) Such an education is a pathway of owning up to the conditions of finitude as a constant provocation to embrace more fully the difficult and delightful pedagogy of divine flesh.

Some people’s pathway of personal evolution is ‘up’ (so to speak) from an experience of life at home in the body—radiating from the heart center—into greater levels of intellectual self-articulation and spiritual flexibility. (Such people grow into the ability to see—and to say—what they already feel in their bones.) My trajectory takes the opposite course. It’s a vector of self-realization that comes ‘down’ into the self-consciousness of the body. One might call it the incarnation of a divine life centering into a heart at home. What ‘descends’ on this transit is an intellectually self-aware spirit, learning to feel with increasing fluency the love it carries by an eternal vision into the medium of flesh.

In Augustine, I found, for at least a leg of that journey, a fellow traveler: someone whose vector of travel—decidedly—is down. One who descends to offer what is unconditional through the conditions of life in a body. Someone who acknowledges incarnation as the challenge of a soul coming into articulate self-awareness through its fragmentary, fleeting, and fragile loves and their losses. Someone learning to allow such losses to become occasions for transforming grief into compassionate unattachment. Someone who chances letting go as a pathway of loving self-disclosure: a journey in which the flesh becomes increasingly translucent to the divine life that has always inhabited it, albeit often enough unselfconsciously.

I teach business ethics and sustainability in a business school. Why? Because business is a school of incarnation: it’s a place of responding to desire through embodied exchange. If one has eyes to see and a heart to understand, those responses teach us who we are, where we are, and what we love. They teach us how to live a divine life in mortal flesh.

Of course, frequently, the words we use to articulate our self-understanding in business fall mute. Often, we retreat to the language of ‘values’ and find ourselves unable to express why we value what we value in terms of who we are and whom we love. Pedagogy here elicits a process of ‘ascent’: giving voice to what the body knows in language that the spirit can offer. Offering such pedagogy is one opportunity for ‘descending’ into a more fluent expression of a far-sighted life awkwardly learning to carry itself in the marketplace a little less ungracefully.