I was chatting with some friends earlier this week. I love to have good conversations. If we can imbibe coffee or enjoy birdsong whilst talking, all the better. Alas, it was an indoor conversation, but there was plenteous caffeine. And so it goes.
Anyway, we were discussing the importance of physical location in worship, and at one point, someone said something like, “But of course, your soul is the real you…” and the conversation went on. I circled back during a lull and focused on that phrase.
The soul is the real you? The spiritual is the best indicator of who you are? In February, we buried my Grandmom. I did her eulogy. And I heard a lot of the same talk. People would look at her in the casket and say, “We know that this is not Mary Kay. She’s up in heaven right now.” Then who did we put in the ground?
You are your soul. And you are your body. And you are your emotions and your mind and your will. You do not simply bear the image of God. You are the image of God. Otherwise, the resurrection of the body makes no sense. Christians aren’t Platonists. Christians aren’t Gnostics. We aren’t materialists.
The body and the soul belong together. Death is just a brief separation. We put my Grandmom in the ground. And my Grandmom is also in heaven. One day, her body will sprout like a flower from the grave and her renewed soul will be reunited with a renewed body.
That’s the hope.
I’ve never been very good at Lent. I understand that it’s a beautiful gift to the Church. It’s a time of “bright sadness” (Alexander Schmemann) and “shadowless light” (Wendell Berry), but as someone well acquainted with the darkness, it can be an interesting and challenging time.
I chose to give up Facebook and Twitter for Lent, and it’s ridiculous. I find myself instinctively typing in the URL only to come to the login page and remind myself that I logged out for a reason. But Pascal was right. We hate to be alone with our own thoughts in the quiet. So, I find myself checking my email almost compulsively. Youtube gets a lot more screen time. That might be the next to go.
Why do I have to distract myself so readily? Be still, says the Lord. Still? Still still? How long, O Lord? How long must I be still? Until I know that he is God, despite the roar and foam and swelling of life’s raging ocean.
For Lent, I’m stumbling through my resolve to walk firmly. Mindless scrolling is the thing to go, I think. Logged out of Facebook, Twitter, and usually Instagram. We’ll see. But what I love so far is that I’ve reignited my friendship with pocket notebooks. After lifting this morning, I snagged some pancakes at the local IHOP before my first meeting of the day. I had a beautiful 45 minutes to burn, so I wrote and wrote. I drank some Psalm 37 and let the ink spill back out on to my Moleskine.
I’ve come to a realization about myself. Most days, I run out far too quickly. I’m up at 5:00am on my “training days.” I lift. I sweat a little. I maybe have an energy drink or some black coffee. I fill up on a slow churn bucket of Scripture and a little prayer. And by 3 or 4pm, I feel the darkness pressing up from where I locked it. That’s why I think it might be helpful to return to the daily office.
Matins. Noonday prayer. Evensong. Compline. I used to think of them as sets to pump my way through each day, trying to get each rep better than the last. I’m starting to see it more as mid-air refueling. My capacity just isn’t as great as I think it is. Or maybe I’m just flying too fast. And every now and then, a goose flies into the engine. But I’m going to keep flying. I’m not sure I was ever taught how to land.
It’s easy to be disenchanted. It’s tough to walk around homesick with your nose to the sunrise, knowing Something is out there, haunting your loves and your pains. I woke up wounded on a summer night 1986. That wound, magnificently gashed too deep to see, will only fully heal when I’m in the arms of that relentless Someone. Caught up into a higher life, “being pulled into God, by God,” while still remaining myself.
That’s where the magic smolders eternal. In an ordinary prayer. That’s where I hear him singing.