Being Sown: a reflection for Convivium at Saint John’s School of Theology on 1/26/2012

But someone will ask, ‘How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?’ Fool! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And as for what you sow, you do not sow the body that is to be, but a bare seed, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. Not all flesh is alike, but there is one flesh for human beings, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. There are both heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one thing, and that of the earthly is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; indeed, star differs from star in glory.
So it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. 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. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; and as is the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we will also bear the image of the man of heaven.
(1 Corinthians 35-49)

     Last semester, I received a great gift from my Liturgical Celebration class: a moment in which I perceived the heavenly Body in the earthly Body. As is my calling, I will try to return it today.

On All Saints’ Day,
   I walked out of the Abbey Church towards the lake,
      into the grounds.
I heard a community of prayer moving around me,
   and sensed that it extended
       beyond the living,
          up the hill
       to the graveyard where I was headed.

The wind that day spoke of winter coming,
   a winter now here.

It called my attention to the trees
   arching overhead like rafters.

“Out of a church into a larger church,” I thought.

Out of the earthly church,
   with its glory of concrete and flesh,
      into a larger church
   whose glory is yet unknown.

I am called to be a life-giving spirit, but what I know is death and failure.

Any vocation is a being sown,
   not always distinguishable from death.
Some days it seems all too likely to me
   that the Word of God has come
     only to die again in my dishonorable flesh.

But the Word, as Julian of Norwich puts it,
   came among us
      to suffer on the cross
         from two great thirsts:
   the physical thirst of his bleeding, dying flesh,
   and his spiritual thirst,
       his “love-longing
          to possess all his people
             together
          wholly within himself,”
       united in love with him and with one another.

Until we are raised,
   until we bear Christ’s image, wholly,
      in the image of human flesh,
         the work of the crucifixion is not yet finished.

Until then,
may we make this place a fertile ground from which every seed may spring up in renewed life,

and may we be sown.
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