It Is Well With My Soul: March 18, 2022

It Is Well With My Soul

“He will transform the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself.” – Philippians 3:21

Yesterday Sharon and I did our walk down to Bellingham Bay, through Boulevard Park, and the over-water walkway to Taylor Dock. Ascending the dock toward 10th Street, I noticed a woman sitting alone on one of the benches, eyes fixed on the view of sea and islands before her. As we passed, I noticed the vertical lines in her chin; the wrinkles that come with age and was reminded that I’m entering the phase of life she is in. I felt within a sense of the fleeting nature of my life in this realm, and again I had to contemplate how I really feel about this reality.

Paul’s description of “the body of our humiliation” catches my attention. In David Bentley Hart’s translation of this text, he uses the word “abjectness” here. In any case, it means the body in which we experience low estate. Advancing age brings with it a sense of being in a low estate, with the aches and pains and diminishing strength that are characteristic of our latter years. In my own experience of a heart failure diagnosis and subsequent treatment, this has become more personal for me.

This text is full of mystery for me. Paul apparently thought Christ’s return was imminent. Our perspective is necessarily different than his on that score. His description of the transformation of our bodies into the likeness of Christ’s resurrected body is likewise mysterious. After all, Paul never in his writings precisely defines what he means by this glorified body.

As a priest, I’ve had the immense privilege of accompanying many on their path to dying and presiding over their burial services. On each occasion, I’ve drawn on my trust that this mystery of which Paul writes signifies something real, even though it is beyond my ability to comprehend. That trust has enabled me to affirm the church’s message that death is not defeat. The divine energies that showed Christ as risen, that came together to form us in our mother’s womb, are the energies that keep us in the larger life of God beyond all imagining.

I go on trusting, and glad for every day of health and strength I can enjoy.

O God, as my days increase and the horizon of time in this life draws nearer, help me to accept gracefully various weaknesses of the body over which I have no control. Center my heart and fix my mind on my true home, which is your dominion that is both here and in the life to come. Plant my feet on the firm ground of your love, which you bear for all people. Enable my hand to grasp the hand you have extended to us through Jesus your Holy Child, and give me always the desire to desire what he desires. Amen.
-Fr. Jonathan Weldon