“It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body. Thus it is written, ‘The first man, Adam, became a living being’; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual that is first, but the physical, and then the spiritual.” (1st Corinthians 15: 44 to 46)
Paul shares with us what he presents as facts; that is, if there is a physical body then there is a spiritual body attached to it. Really? He says, “in fact,” our physical bodies are first and then we get the spiritual bodies or presence. Do animals have a spiritual presence as well? I don’t know. Do all people have a spiritual presence? I don’t know that either.
What I do know is that when I meditate quietly and alone, I feel the presence of the Other, the Holy Other! Maybe this is where mystics and contemplatives enjoy a richer spirituality than the less meditative personas. The truth is however, we all, as humans, can receive this. It is said of Evelyn Underhill, Twentieth century Theologian and Mystic (June 15,1941), that her “most valuable contribution to spiritual literature must surely be her conviction that the mystical life is not only open to a saintly few, but to anyone who cares to nurture it and weave it into everyday experience:” (Great Cloud of Witnesses for June 15).
If we study Paul’s and Underhill’s teachings, any of us can make use of our spiritual bodies now. Yes, we were given our physical bodies first. But, being Baptized into the Death and Resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ, we also have our spiritual bodies. Both Paul and Evelyn were followers and learners of our Lord Jesus. So are we as Christians of today. Too many Christian ascribe meditation and mysticism to Mid Eastern and Far Eastern faith traditions. We Christians have a contemplative tradition handed down to us from our Lord Jesus as He Himself often went to a quiet place to pray.
As I write these words, I myself am in a cottage, called the Pelican House, as part of the Episcopal Diocese of East Carolina and situated on the North Carolina coast touching the Atlantic Ocean. I can hear the waves and the wind as I am writing these words. I am here with other clergy for our annual clergy conference that we have had to cancel in the past due to Covid. These mornings and evenings while on my breaks I make time to be with my Lord and God. I breathe deeply and slowly, and relax into the spiritual comfort of my own spirit and the Holy Spirit of my Creator and Lord. Thank You Lord Jesus. Wherever you are, settle down into some quiet time and be still, and know yourself, as explained by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, to be a spiritual being who is also learning to be the human animal.
As we listen to what the Spirit is saying to us, let us live to love, to serve, and to teach, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John