This is the last clause of the Apostle’s Creed. It does not say the “resurrection of the soul”. The Hebrew nephesh, sometimes translated as “soul”, means also “life in the body”, “our absolute identity”, “who we really are”, and “the ground of our being.” It is the eternal mark of our identity. Resurrection is about the perpetuation of our identity forever. That state is almost impossible to comprehend. We catch glimpses of it by reading very closely the accounts in the Gospels of Christ’s resurrection. We do this in the season of Easter with great diligence in the liturgical readings and their exposition. This is a crucial exercise for us because it is about the very ground of our faith.
If you want to dream, put a note on your bedside table saying, “I will dream tonight, “ and more than likely you will, as Marie von Franz taught at the Jung Institute in Zurich. Dreams apparently come from our unconscious and the interaction with it of our daily slide show of the mental and emotional content of what happens through the day, and I suspect from many of our other days. I mean by the “unconscious” the depths of our psyche which cannot be mentally assessed with any real clarity. The unconscious is not receptive to definitions.
But the shadowy symbols of our dreams seem to attract its attention and even intervention. We also should not be accepting of the definition of others about who we are in our more conscious presentations. We cannot avoid the need for social skills that are honed by constructive criticism. But we spend a great deal of time trying to work one another out, with very little actual success. Our inner world, even at a level closer to the surface of our name, reputation, and social identity, defies any precise definition.
The Filipino language uses variants of loob to describe our inner life or the interior of what it means to be human, amongst many other things. The first ‘o’ is pronounced like the ‘o’ in “lolly”. The second ‘o’ is pronounced like the ‘o’ in the “lobe” of an ear. English speakers pounce on those who do not pronounce English words correctly. Speakers of other languages should be accorded the same privilege, especially for such a great word!
The interior life of every human being is a huge world. When we turn to God and in faith-impelled reason we declare that we believe in God, we open doors to welcome the Eternal Spirit into our inner world. This may seem incredibly small compared to the vastness of God and the mansions of the Spirit of God. But we are assured in that once in our history Spirit-Word came into the home of Mary of Nazareth and created new life through her feminine creativity. From that life was given the magnificent gift to humanity of a “truly human” Messiah who was totally connected within to God.
This Christ or “Anointed One” was also totally human in his fragility, unable to avoid the multitude of hurts and travails that assail every human being. We cannot create God’s Spirit within us. God alone can authenticate the presence of Holy Spirit within us. Meister Eckhart said that long ago, and he was right. It is fitting that his insights into God and the relationship of humanity to God are being rediscovered in the 21st century. He was braver than most in peering into the heart of God and into his own soul.
We do not know how this life in the body, the soul, or any of the descriptive terms that go with it, draws together our history and our identity. That is, it collects the countless little details, often pathetically petty, that make up a life, and presents them to God in what we call “the resurrection of the body.” The whole matter is incredibly simple and hugely complex and that boggles the mind.
The most beautiful things on earth and heaven are those things that are distilled from everything else and then lifted up and presented in their simplest and most crystal- clear form. The Holy is in essence the purest simplicity of all. The resurrection of the body is about us on our pilgrimage and its content and most of all its alignment with the Eternal Spirit in the words of our life and in the words of God articulated by the Word. That Word who “became flesh” proceeds from the Creator Spirit as the preserver of our spirit. This is the Artist who brings the wistful hopes of our dreams vibrantly alive in multi-colours and shapes.
We do not understand what “life everlasting” means. We can only trust and speculate about it.
Christ talked sparingly about heaven and spent most of his time teaching about how we might conduct ourselves on earth in a way that would be pleasing to God “on earth and in heaven.” Everything that he says about the Reign of God links heaven and earth. The parables are like symbols and dreams unlocking the realities of the unconscious and unleashing its power. That is, the parables of Jesus are a series of earthly symbols drawn from human life and conduct that open up our access into understanding something of the hidden vastness of heaven. And some of it is within us.