Philippians 1:18b-26

‘I wish I could go all the way with you to Rivendell, Mr. Frodo, and see Mr. Bilbo,’ said Sam. ‘And yet the only place I really want to be in is here. I am that torn in two.’

‘Poor Sam! It will feel like that, I am afraid,’ said Frodo. ‘But you will be healed. You were meant to be solid and whole, and you will be.’ 

I hear you Sam Gamgee! Torn. And Paul hears you too. Departing or remaining… Paul says he is “hard pressed between the two.” “To live is Christ to die is gain.” Now that will get the old wheels turning ’round.

There’s a passage in Jack (Marilynne Robinson) in which one of the characters thinks about what it means to see the soul of another. In all the crowd of humanity she has seen the soul of another. I get that. I don’t do that passage justice here, but I really don’t want to provide any spoilers–you should read these books!

As I read that passage though one of those thoughts flooded my mind. It was write-it-down-now worthy. So I did write it down. And all it says is that ‘I am more than my body.’ Of course I am. Right? But reading that particular passage about seeing someone else’s soul–you know really seeing them for who they are. Their essence. Even if it’s just a glimpse here and there. And considering that other people may claim the same about me. Maybe they see me that way. I am more than my body.

Now… I have moved on from Robinson for the time, and am now re-reading NT Wright’s Jesus and the Victory of God. And if I haven’t admitted yet, Wright is one of the major influences on my life in the last decade or so. The first book I read of his was Surprised by Hope and I have since read just about everything he has written–excepting Climax of the Covenant because too much Greek (and I don’t know Greek).

I am more than my body. But… what I have gleaned from Wright and what has settled into my thinking is the reality of the body. The physical. I may find this difficult to convey in these few words, but Wright tackles the we ‘go to heaven when we die’ notion and says that it is incomplete at best. He argues that we aren’t just headed for some spiritual netherworld when we die, but that instead the hope of the gospel is the resurrection of the body. The material. That what we do and experience here and now in this age matters. That we somehow get to create the building blocks for the new world.

Now, Wright says that there will be a transformation of some sort. It won’t be these bodies exactly as they are necessarily. And, of course, this is just his viewpoint, though well researched and put together. I include a terrible summary of it here only to point out that the body is phenomenal. The physical, material world was made good, and very good, in the beginning in the story of creation.

But this body does fade. It does. It is fading. And reading that passage in Jack, or being influenced by Wright’s thinking, or a sunset in Montana, or a winning question in trivia, or experiencing a moment together listening to the Dreaming Tree or whatever… there is a Spirit that connects us all. The Spirit moves in all things JB wails. Soul. And there is a sense of the good in that kind of thing. The beautiful. The peaceful. The eternal.

And the Hope is that it will be. And the Hope is that the connection that we experience at the soul level, at the beautiful/peaceful/eternal level, that it will be. It will be. Always it will be. And the Hope is that we will experience the goodness of the body. The physical. The material. The laughing and crying and constant battling to rest in the present. The touch. The glances that we receive that revive and reveal. By God it is good! And so I learn to rest in the Glory–everytime we dance–that awaits. That is already and will be. And I learn to rest in the present Body. Working and struggling and sharing in the majesty of existence. And learning to see the souls of others and accept that they see me. As we live in the now that is always. The eternal moment. Maybe that’s where the two really meet. The now and not yet. Maybe they converge in this very moment.

At the end of LOTR Sam walks in to his Rosie, after letting Frodo go, and… he takes a deep breath. Yep.

…Tomorrow I’m thinking some words from Walt Whitman, Friday I’m leaning towards a Flashback about my old Ford Escort, but not certain, Saturday I declare war on the word WOULD… Sunday RCL, Monday Acoustic Syndicate… Thanks for reading y’all!

Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance. 20 It is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be put to shame in any way, but that by my speaking with all boldness, Christ will be exalted now as always in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain. 22 If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which I prefer. 23 I am hard pressed between the two: my desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better; 24 but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you. 25 Since I am convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in faith, 26 so that I may share abundantly in your boasting in Christ Jesus when I come to you again.

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