Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Certainly mortal... very visible... not all that wise

"Immortal, invisible, God only wise, In light inaccessible hid from our eyes..." - Walter Chalmers Smith

Picture at left: Leaning on the top of the tower of Pisa!

Disclaimer: Don't mistake this entry for theological scholarship, doctrinal purity, philosophical insight, or well-reasoned argument. I'm simply an observer and - mostly - an examiner of my own life. Feel free to participate in the conversation.

I woke up (kind of) today, feeling exceptionally mortal. That's not to say that I ever feel exclusively immortal, just that the part of my consciousness that finds it's identity in the non-transcendent is doing a bang-up job of stating its case at the moment!

Regardless, 6:00 still means "walk the dog," especially when the tile-guys are scheduled to launch day-two of their performance around 7:15. My body, however, had serious issues with the schedule and I felt as if I was moving in an exaggerated slow-motion. Not pain so much as resistance; not stiffness so much as heaviness - a sense of super-high viscosity, a walking through heavy mud or that "pit of plastic balls" in the kids' play area at a fast-food joint.

But getting up and walking a few miles can be redemptive in so many ways. Not only were the cob-webs shaken out (somewhat) but my evolving spiritual sensitivity has the opportunity to reconnect with the rest of me. We often speak of body and spirit, mortal and immortal, or time and eternity as unresolvable dualities. But I am more inclined to experience them working together, interconnected, mutually dependant.

That's one reason I've never appreciated the theology in the old song "This world is not my home, I'm just a-passin' through...." My understanding is that we were created specifically for this world. This world is my home and my home is in the heart of God. These are two truths that can be held at once. I believe that body and soul have this ongoing dance together, something that cannot be properly understood in terms of complete independence.

My thinking sets up potential difficulties when talking about life beyond death. But that's OK, because tidy explanations are typically even less satisfactory. So I'm going to sound contradictory and say that my experiences with death (other people's, I haven't had any "near-death" experiences myself) have demonstrated beyond a doubt that the essence of who we are cannot be exclusively contained by the physical shell we inhabit these few years as mortals.

A woman I talked with recently described her experience of visiting with her two-year old son when he was in a coma (He remained alive, broken and unconscious, for several months after a terrible accident). "Sometimes when I arrived by his side his body was a shell," she said; "he simply was not there. Then other times I would visit and it was obvious that he was still very much in the room, and I felt close to my son. It was definitely the kind of coma that would not ever reverse and in many respects he was already gone... but, on those memorable occasions he was present with me all the same."

So today I feel exceptionally - maybe "excessively!" - mortal. My spirit, however (like the surprising life that animated almost-60-year-old Tom Watson while he dominated the world's best golfers "in their prime" at the recent British Open), while not existing independently from this "mortal frame" during my life, plays a critical role when it comes to how I use this tired body... and my spirit receives its sustenance and its animation independent from the purely physical realm - it receives nourishment and meaning from the source of all life.

Don't mistake this entry for theological scholarship, doctrinal purity, philosophical insight, or well-reasoned argument. I'm simply an observer and - mostly - an examiner of my own life. Feel free to participate in the conversation.

Peace - DEREK


1 comment:

fit2finish said...

Hey Derek, glad to hear from you - even by the written word. perhaps especially so. in support of your thesis, i was transcribing some notes from the conference. drew the interlinking of partial circles denoting the "collision of heaven and earth" (like we used to draw Venn diagrams) and what should emerge but a "fish" <>< the Spirit is alive!