As in St. John of the Cross, the classic picture of the soul is that of a prisoner of the body. Depending on the level of one’s spiritual growth this certainly holds true more times than not. The sentient body with its whims, desires, and penchant for comfort keeps the spirit from flying freely. Yet, I submit that in another sense it might be said that the body can be a prisoner of the soul, and this reversal may be precisely at the heart of the spiritual life.
We may have noticed that at those times when our spirit soars our bodies are not even an afterthought. Sustaining this condition, however, is opposed bluntly and inevitably by the body. Of course, even during the times of our greatest spiritual moments we can never sever the rope to the anchor of our bodies. But I do think that with practice one can become more and more adept at sustaining longer durations of subjugation of the body to the spirit. After all, isn’t that what growth in the spirit is about? What can be reversed in this regard is the urging of the body to accommodate one’s spiritual endeavors to its own comfort and convenience. It can be reversed by embracing the urgings of the spirit to overcome these inclinations of the body by love and self-denial. To live out our lives this way is to make the body the prisoner of the soul
I enjoyed reading your thoughts on body and spirit - who has the upper hand? I often describe the feeling I have, when the body seemingly bogs down the spirit, as gravity. The body does pull us down, using fatigue, anxiety, or just plain “busyness,” as tools to keep us “grounded” to our earthly lives.
But, ever the optimist, as I’m sure God would also have to be, in order to endure what the world sends His way, I realized that TODAY, even though I was extremely busy and am now very tired, was not absent of Spirit but rather a day He chose to work in my heart and through my accomplishments, to assure me He was there. A friend asked for advise, via email, and the first task of my day was to address her needs. A half hour later, I was able to take her needs, as well as those of others, to God in prayer. Then, on to the nursing home to spend time with my mother. I always use driving time to talk to God. Arriving home meant making lunch for my husband, lest he forget to feed himself, (he’s good at that when he’s working in his garage.) Though tired already, I decided it was important to practice a music program I want to do for the residents at the home, hopefully before Easter. Interrupted after the first hour, yet blessed, I received a phone call from my youngest son, an almost daily occurrence. Back to another hour of practice, then feeding my pets, including the wild birds and the stray cat that lives under the neighbor’s porch. Time, then, to walk my dog, even though it’s raining. Another blessing - as soon as the walk is over, the sun shines, a gift from God. Meatloaf needed to be prepared and is ready for the oven. I managed to find a minute to contact the true2yourself website, have tried to sign up for 2 days, to no avail.
The Spirit is ever present, just not always in the way we may want Him to be. Last night, I received one of the greatest spiritual blessings EVER by reading Simply Jesus by N.T.
Wright, (if you haven’t read it, you must, it’s amazing and will draw you closer to that joyful feeling you seek from God.)
I love your letters to Jesus. I always get something from them, can relate to what you are feeling, in so many ways. God Bless, and I do hope I get to send this to you, one of these days.