Thursday, November 09, 2006

Peregrination of the soul

I've mentioned before that I like, as Mrs. Euphrony describes it, "talkie" music. There's a reason for this, and it is akin to why I also prefer movies or stories that follow a man's journey. Case and point is the fact that, every February 2nd, I watch Groundhog Day with Bill Murray. Besides starring a generally funny guy, I like this movie because it chronicles the change of a man from a self-centered, egotistic lout to a caring, selfless, likable man. Like Solomon, he finds that he can spend his days (or, in the movie, one day over and over) in search of fun and pleasure; but this vanity leaves him empty, hollow, suicidal. It is only after his resignation to the fact that life is bigger than him that he actually begins to grow, to change, to see others and not himself.

O, BrotherI love this kind of story, which tells of the pilgrimage of a man. I guess, for me, I care a lot less about where you are than where you are going. I can tell from times in my own life that, though I was on a spiritual or physical mountaintop, I was on a slip-n-slide to hell. I was going the wrong way, from strength in God to weakness in myself. So I want to know how a man is growing, not what have you done but what are you doing. This is how I measure my own life - awards on the shelf are meaningless, past glories; what prize am I striving for today? If I cannot name that prize, that thing I work towards, then I know I'm in trouble.

John Donne wrote about the pilgrimage of man. I mentioned in my last post that I am reading his Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions; along with it I am reading Death's Duel, which was the last sermon Donne preached, just a few days before his own death. It seemed that Donne almost knew he was about to die: along with preaching Death's Duel, generally regarded as a personal eulogy, he also sat for a painting of himself in a shroud (e.g. in funereal garb) which was completed at the same time. So, with his eulogy and obituary picture completed, he died. He was obsessed with death, and obsessed with the journey and transition of man.

In domo Patris, in my Father's house, in heaven, there are many mansions;(John 14:2) but here, upon earth, the Son of man hath not where to lay his head,(Matt. 8:20) saith he himself. Nonne terram dedit filiis hominum? How then hath God given this earth to the sons of men? He hath given them earth for their materials to be made of earth, and he hath given them earth for their grave and sepulchre, to return and resolve to earth, but not for their possession. Here we have no continuing city,(Heb. 13:14) nay, no cottage that continues, nay, no persons, no bodies, that continue. Whatsoever moved Saint Jerome to call the journeys of the Israelites in the wilderness,(Exod. 17:1) mansions; the word (the word is nasang) signifies but a journey, but a peregrination. Even the Israel of God hath no mansions, but journeys, pilgrimages in this life. By what measure did Jacob measure his life to Pharaoh? The days of the years of my pilgrimage. (Gen. 47:9) And though the apostle would not say morimur, that whilst we are in the body we are dead, yet he says, perigrinamur, whilst we are in the body we are but in a pilgrimage, and we are absent from the Lord (2 Cor. 5:6)
from Death's Duel by John Donne
The passage he mentions in 2 Corinthians is one that holds a very familiar mantra to all who know Christ, but the encompassing words (to which Donne also makes reference) we do not know as well, I think.
6Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord— 7for we walk by faith, not by sight— 8we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. 9Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. 10For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
2 Corinthians 5:6-10 (NASB)
Paul does describe, as Donne states, not a death apart from God but a pilgrimage to meet Him. Our peregrination is in faith, the unseen; not in the things we perceive with the senses and intelligence of the flesh, but with spiritual eyes, spiritual discernment, guided by the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16). But the essence, the basis, of what Paul tells us is that we journey and not stagnate. Our great sorrow is that, while wearing this robe of flesh, we are apart from Jehovah; but the great hope we cling to, that gives us courage to partake in this pilgrimage and not turn aside, is the hope that when we shuffle off this mortal coil we will find our home with Him in the eternal Kingdom.

Where has your journey been taking you? For myself, I almost feel of late as though I've been wandering in the desert, going in circles. It is a circle I need to break out of, but it gets to be just a little too comfortable and I find myself looking back and not ahead. I'm trying to fix my eyes on the hope I have, to give that hope to others. I will travel along.

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3 comments:

Reel Fanatic said...

Interesting stuff .. I"m glad to know I'm not the only one crazy enough to watch the great Groundhog day once a year!

euphrony said...

Thanks for stopping by, Reel Fanatic. My wife thinks I'm crazy, too.

Checked out your blog . . . you remind me of a college friend and one of the grandfathers of TheForce.net, Scott Chitwood. He is one of the handful of people I know who make my movie knowledge look like a kindergarten's.

Anne said...

I have hope my journey is taking me to the Gloryland. It has been an interesting 6 years.

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