Friday, July 9, 2010

Connections between the Physical and the Spiritual

Tonight I was driving home, and it was raining. Finally. Sweet, life-giving rain. We haven't had a dry spell like this since we moved back from Israel, and you could almost see the corn in the farmer's fields and the grass in all the yards crying out for moisture. OK, I'm being a little dramatic, but it was really sad to see how dry things were. As I was enjoying the rain and thanking God for it, my mind jumped to this blog post from May. Something physical reminded me of something spiritual.

As we continued towards home, we passed Mole Hill; and Josiah called from the backseat, "Look, the cloud is kissing Mole Hill!" I looked and--sure enough--there was fog on the top of Mole Hill. I had to smile because it's been a long time since I described fog as a cloud kissing the earth, but Josiah had no trouble remembering that that is how I spoke of fog when he was younger--in part, so that he wouldn't be afraid of it. As soon as he said that and I saw the cloud covering the top of the hill, my thoughts flew to Exodus 40:34-38, and I took the opportunity for a little impromptu Bible quiz with Josiah. I asked him what the cloud stood for while the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness. He didn't pass the quiz--he said he didn't know--but that was OK. :) As soon as I mentioned the cloud descending on the tabernacle when the presence of God was there and the cloud leading the Israelites, he said, "Oh yeah! I remember!" Once again, something in the physical connected to the spiritual.

We're such physical beings, often blinded to anything beyond the reality of what we can see and hear and touch and taste and smell. At the same time, we're such spiritual beings; and even if we don't realize or admit it, there IS a strong connection between the two realms.

Here's a negative example of this: the snake. I mentioned in that post that even after I had tried to train my mind to think rationally about how to deal with a snake, the actual sight of it sent me into a terror that reached far beyond the physical to the spiritual. I am a true daughter of Eve, it seems. I was astonished at how many women commented and said that snakes were no big deal to them. Really?? I can't even imagine how that would feel to calmly see a snake. I take my hat off to them; and maybe someday when I mature spiritually, I can have the same kind of response.

Another negative example: movies. That subject is worth a whole post; but in a nutshell, watching scary movies is a spiritual issue for me. Someone else--Jeff included--can watch a movie with some suspense in it and not be fazed by it. I, on the other hand, find myself in a violent spiritual struggle if I open myself up to that. What I see with my physical eyes becomes a huge spiritual thing for me. And so now that I know that and am strong enough to stand against peer pressure, I take certain safeguards to combat my weakness(?) in this area. I just don't watch things that will make me struggle. I remember vividly being in the company of friends in California--all committed Christians with very firm convictions about many things--and they were urging me to watch movies that I knew would scare the socks off me. In one situation, Jeff and I were in the home of a particular couple; and they had chosen to watch a movie that didn't seem to be bothering anyone else, but I knew with certainty that it would take me a very long time to recover spiritually from that. So I snuggled on the couch with Jeff, shut my eyes tightly, and tried to go to sleep. I don't think I succeeded in falling asleep! But at least those images did not enter my brain to wreak havoc and plague me spiritually.

On to something pleasant! The last example of this physical/spiritual connection that I was pondering recently was Riven Rock. I've mentioned that beautiful place a number of times in previous posts; and I bring it up now because the last time we went, I was reminded of how peace descends on my soul as we drive down the curving lane into the park and make our way towards the river. It's just a river. Just rocks. Just tall trees. Just abundant green plant life. Just quietness, except for nature's sounds. Just physical stuff, made out of carbon and hydrogen and who knows what else! But beyond that, it's peace. It's joy. It's family. It's laughter. It's the presence of God. Whether or not a literal cloud descends, it is a tabernacle; and my soul worships in it. God's creation is indeed very good.

I've only shared a few pictures from my latest Riven Rock trip in various posts over the past few weeks, but here are more. I feel a sense of calm and order and beauty settle over me as I look at them.
On the way...

The boys had so much fun finding rocks.
They kept bringing them to me and asking me to...
..."take a picture of this rock, Mom!"
I obliged, but it was more fun to get a picture of a boy with a rock. :)

The water was cold like it always is, but it didn't deter three adventurous boys.

And I'm sure if Shav could walk, he would have been in the water, too. Instead, he hung out on a blanket and snuggled with Daddy.
Mighty explorers...
Such beauty, even in grass... water splashing from a pebble being dropped... a single stalk of a plant...
...and in the moon peeking through the branches.
It makes me want to simultaneously sigh and shout praises.

Thank You, God, for beauty; and thank You for the physical things that draw our hearts and minds to the spiritual realm. May our days be full of reminders that point us towards You.


Leah said...

I'm currently reading Take This Bread by Sara Miles. So far, much of the overall theme has been how the physical substance of the eucharist/communion and her understanding of hunger, food, fellowship, and communion with others led to her conversion to Christianity. Just thought I'd share another physical to spiritual connection. : )

Anonymous said...

i agree with you. i am one that can't handle movies with much intensity at all. people have tried to make me watch stuff like that and i refuse. i am the one that has to live through and with the after effects not them. also it does not mean you are any less of a person to protect yourself from these things.

bekahcubed said...

My, Shav is getting big!

And now that I've let that out :-), I can say that your first paragraph about Riven Rock was just beautiful. I can identify so much with that sentiment--it's just a place, just a thing, but it isn't. Because God somehow chooses to use those places and things to minister His truth and life to us.

Sally said...

I just remembered, it's almost Shav's first birthday, right? Where did the time go? He is a growing toddler now.

Polly said...

Oh, I'm the same way about scary movies. I avoid them like the plague!!!