Posted by: dacalu | 7 April 2019

Spirit, The Sacred Self

These thoughts on spirit follow complement my reflection on body in the previous post. Both come from a retreat I led on body, mind, and spirit.

God is everywhere. So, everywhere is holy. We, in our limitation, cannot appreciate the holiness of the cosmos. We set aside a few things to remember and recognize their holiness. We call them sacred.

There is a spiritual life, which is not a holier life, but sacred side of life. It helps us to learn that all life (metabolism, consciousness, individuality …) is holy.

We use many names:

  • “Kingdom Life” emphasizes God’s role in uniting the world under one law and identity. It can also make us think of dominance and violence, and God’s Spirit does not seem to work that way.
  • “Resurrection Life” emphasizes the transcendent life we share with Jesus in the resurrection. It can also make us think that spiritual life is distant and “other.” God’s Spirit moves in the messiness of immediate, daily life.
  • “Heavenly Life” emphasizes the sublime, eternal perfection of our life in God. It can also make us thing that spiritual life is static, but God’s Spirit constantly challenges us to move in new ways.

No picture of spiritual life is perfect, because we are still becoming perfect. It helps to know that there are good and bad parts of each – and of many other pictures. We use them best when we think about how they work for us (and others) and how they limit us (and others). With that caveat…

I view spiritual life as the dynamic activity of the Spirit of God breathing in the world. God’s breath (the Holy Spirit) proceeds through souls, bodies, blood, and flesh into the very dust at our feet. God’s breath returns through flesh, blood, body, and soul to the heights of heaven in curiosity, contemplation, conversation, and praise. It moves through us and between us. We can see it at every level.

God’s gift to us – the soul (Hebrew nephesh chay, Greek psychen zoosan) is the very height of creation. And yet, it is as nothing next to the life-giving spirit (Greek pneuma zoopoion) by which Christ enlivens us and we enliven the world.

Jesus inspires us.

Dynamic, spiritual life is not a feature of Christianity; it is Christianity. In myself, I am dust: simple, inactive, undignified. In the Spirit, I am alive: complex, powerful, and glorious.

Life appears as a metaphor for salvation and goodness throughout the scriptures. It may be the most common metaphor. Of course, “being saved” and “being good” are also metaphors for true life. We always speak metaphorically, and yet, I think we should take the life metaphors more literally, more plainly, more viscerally than we do. “Take, eat; this is my body, which is broken for you.”

Spiritual life means bringing life to others…remembering that all life, all breath, is God’s. You do not make the air you breathe. Breathing is about more than air; it is about sharing.

So, let us move from “having life” to “sharing life” and “bringing life, so that we may return through “receiving life” to once again “having life” in ourselves. Life does not stop. We never possess it or accomplish it. We may only join it.

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