A watery resurrection

Marley awoke and there was water everywhere. Dark, murky water filled her mouth and lungs, but she didn’t need them anymore, because the same water filled her grave.

She’d resurrected the moment Jesus appeared in the sky overhead. Even though there was 6 feet of earth and well over 20 feet of water between her and the air, she still knew. She knew the same way Bradford pears knew it was time to bloom, when all at once, seemingly overnight, every one of them burst into shimmering snowflakes of petals, all over the city. How did they know? They just did, and scientists still couldn’t figure it out. But it made sense after all – scientists couldn’t measure the Spirit, and that was what was it work, both with the trees and with Marley.

She was lucky she’d been buried before “professionals” took over the laying out. When she died, her mother and her aunts had cared for her, just like they had done when she was born. They took her down to the creek, an arm of the Stones River, and washed her body. It was like a baptism she’d never had. She’d died at 11 in 1843 of diphtheria. One week she was fine, and then she got a sore throat that seemed to take over all of who she was. It weakened her heart and that was enough to send her out of this world. Little did her family know but if that disease hadn’t killed her, the strain of her having a child years later would have. Better to die now, with no obligations, nobody beholden to leave behind.

Her Granny had told her about Jesus, about his coming back, so this wasn’t a surprise. There’d been many quiet talks over the years while they quilted together or snapped beans out on the back porch for the evening meal. They were looking forward to next summer when the preacher came by to do the yearly baptizing in the creek to formally include her in the local congregation. Sure, she went to church, when she could, when she remembered, when there wasn’t something she had to do at the house. There were always chickens to feed or weeds to pull, and these things didn’t do themselves, as Marly’s Pa was always saying when she tried to put the chores off until later. “Best do them now, Marley girl, before something else comes up what wants tendin’.” He was right, of course, but all those “have to’s” took away from the “want to’s” and the creek needed swimming and the flowers needed picking and the insects needed catching in her mind. The days were positively filled with things to do that had nothing to do with chores, but there was no way of getting around to it all.

But Marley always kept the Sabbath in her heart all her days. She was a simple girl, never one to pry or gossip. All children start off good, the only problem is that the clever ones were a quick study on how to be bad. It took smarts to figure out ways around the rules, and Marley was lucky in that she never had cause to worry about that being a problem. Normally her days were filled with daydreaming about playing with her dolls, once the chores were done, of course. There was no school to go to, not for her, not for anybody in Old Jefferson. There weren’t enough families to pay for a building and a teacher, and there weren’t enough children to fill it. The nearest school was a three hour’s walk away and her family couldn’t spare her for that long with so many things to do around the homestead.

She knew it was time to rise from the grave, the same as if it had been school bell calling her. The call was silent but just as insistent, just as impossible to ignore. And why would she? Who would want to play hooky from heaven? She pushed against the rotten pine boards of the coffin, sending them swimming lazily to the side along with thick clumps of mud. It took her about 20 minutes to reach the surface, which in this case was the bottom of the lake. It didn’t take long after that to swim up to the air, but it was hard work, hard for muscles that hadn’t been used in over a century.

Why was the grave underwater, she mused? Where did the lake come from? Where was her house? For that matter, where was the rest of her family? Surely they’d be rising with her, but she saw none of them nearby. Perhaps they were buried elsewhere? She didn’t dare consider that they might still be in the ground, like iris bulbs that had gone mushy, with no spirit left in them to bloom reborn from the dark earth in which they were planted.

The Corps of Engineers had flooded the town of Old Jefferson late in 1966 to make a hydroelectric dam, big enough to bring clean, reliable power to them and half a dozen other little towns to boot. Only trouble was that the towns had to relocate to higher ground to benefit from that progress. Power doesn’t do you any good if your farm is at the bottom of a lake.

Moving the people and their livestock was hard enough, but then someone remembered the graves. There were hundreds of family cemeteries in the valley, often tucked away at the ends of farms, at the highest point, so that the well water wouldn’t be affected. Here the dead were laid to rest at the tops of hills in order to be closer to heaven. But with the water coming, all the dead had to be relocated the same as the people. It wasn’t an easy task – living relatives had to be located, permission forms had to be signed and notarized. Many of the dead were moved to the Mount Juliet cemetery, but some stayed right where they were laid to rest however long ago that was.

Sometimes the family had moved on or died out so they couldn’t be asked for permission. Otherwise, the remaining relatives decided it was more respectful to leave their loved ones alone after seeing some of the other graves exhumed. Plain pine boxes and fancy mahogany ones all rot the same after a few years under the pressure of 4 tons of dirt from a standard size grave. It was a hard sight to see, all those coffins being dug up and falling apart. It wasn’t respectful, to their mind. Better leave them where they were.

In Marly’s case, it was a little of both. The family had moved away not long after she had died, too distraught to live in the same place where their child had died. It didn’t make sense for her to go so young. Mama blamed herself for not taking better care of her, while Pa lamented that he’d not had enough money saved up to take her to the doctor, who might have been able to do some good for a change. They’d left rather than have to answer all those open questions hanging around like dead fruit. It didn’t solve the problems, of course, just pushed them off until later. Unanswered questions always have a way of not staying quiet.

The family had left the tending of their graveyard to the neighbors, who promised to keep the small plot mowed and free of trespassers of any kind. They assured her kin that they’d treat them like their own, and sent them off with sandwiches and a jug of fresh apple cider on moving day. In return they got the house and the farm signed over to them. Her family was ready to start again from scratch. They figured it was the only way to make up to Marly for letting her die the way they did.

When the time came to move that plot, the neighbors had said no, in part upset at the hullaballoo created by the other exhumations, and in part hopeful that the Corps would give up on their plans. They thought that if enough people left the dead where they were, the government would have to relent and let the living stay. They didn’t count on the fact that the government doesn’t have feelings.

It sure was a sight to see the dead come up out of the grey-green water that late August day. It was a Wednesday when it happened in Davidson County. The Rising had started a day earlier in Israel, and had traveled like a wave over the world, spending just as long in each area as the number of dead required. Some areas took longer than others. Some were full of the faithful. Some took barely a moment, in spite of the many thousands of graves there.

The Messiah appeared in the sky, exactly as promised, trailing clouds of glory. Signs and portents had pierced the skies for weeks beforehand, but only a few people heeded them. Likewise, dreams and visions occupied the nights and days of many people, but most wrote them off to stress and took another Xanax or drank some Nyquil. They complained about their insomnia on their Facebook pages, not taking notice of how many others were having the same experience.

It was a lot like when the first raindrops started to fall when the Flood happened. Nobody but Noah and his family thought it was going to keep on raining. It was a lot like when Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed – all those people died, and only Lot and his daughters were mindful enough to leave. Noah, Lot, Joseph – they all heard the voice of God and took it seriously and lives were saved. Only those who took the messages seriously were saved.

This time, many preachers told their flocks to ignore the messages, because they hadn’t heard the voice themselves. Surely God would speak to them, they thought. Why would God waste God’s time on the sheep and forget the shepherd, they mused. The problem was that they forgot that Jesus was the Shepherd, and they were the same as their church members. They’d forgotten that they weren’t in charge of anything at all. When they’d decided to take up the role of minister and do all the talking, they’d given up the most important part of following God – listening. Only those who’d remained humble pastors were called this time to the great awakening. They were the ones who remembered Who was the One who was the true leader of the Church.

Marly was listening, that was for sure. She rose up, high in the sky, and was greeted personally by Jesus. She asked him how this could be since she wasn’t baptized, and he said that she’d been baptized with the only baptism that counted, the one of the Spirit. He told her that a water baptism is something people do, for show. It wasn’t real. It was a hope, a promise. It pointed towards the real thing, but it wasn’t it. It didn’t mean anything at all when it came to being saved. That was something between the person’s soul and the Spirit, the presence of God in the world.

Like called to like in that case, with the Spirit calling and the soul responding. Water wasn’t necessary, because the Spirit could use any element it wanted. An element from the Earth was helpful, because it was a sign to the body. The soul knew when it was recognized by the Spirit, when it was welcomed home. The body needed a little more convincing, however, so some sort of ceremony was needed to remind it. That was all baptism was, he said, a reminding, a remembering, a joining back together with the side that had been forgotten during childhood. We are created in heaven, in the Spirit, and as babies are still attached to that world. Marley, having never truly left it, didn’t have any work at all to do to be part of that world again as a soul in a body.

Many others had a lot more work to do, because being a soul in a body was distracting. It was so needy, the body, so demanding. It made them forget their commitments by replacing them with cravings. It provided daily (sometimes hourly) reminders that they couldn’t possibly survive in this world without constant and persistent re-turning towards the Light that is God.

Advertisements

The red doors of St. Meinrad’s Archabbey

Red is a common color for doors in liturgical Christian churches. It is a symbol of the Holy Spirit, the fire and spark of God that animates all things. Interestingly, red is also the color that Tibetan Buddhists use to mark its buildings that have a statue of Buddha in it, as well as the color of the robes for their monks – for the very same reason. Red is a symbol of the Divine presence within. Red is also the color of Torii gates in the Shinto faith tradition. They are used to mark spiritual gateways, to indicate that beyond them is a holy place. It can also be described as being a visible symbol of the Presence of God, or as Jews would say, the Shekinah.

These were taken late September 2015 in St. Meinrad, Indiana, at the Archabbey and the seminary.

1

abbey

abbey2

door

private

The front of the Archabbey with the three sets of red doors.
front1

A closeup of the Yale lock on one of those doors, with the red paint better visible.
yale

The Counselor’s ministry

“Now I am returning to the One who sent me here, and none of you asks me where I’m going? Yet you are all very sad because I’ve told you all of this. In spite of that, I’m telling you the truth. It will benefit you if I leave because then the Counselor can come to you – I’ll send the Holy Spirit to you when I leave. The Holy Spirit will declare the world’s guilt about sin, and teach it about righteousness and judgment. The world is guilty of sin because they don’t believe in me. It will teach about righteousness because you’ll no longer see me because I’m returning to the Father. Judgment will be taught because the ruler of this world – the Devil – has been judged.

There are yet more things I have to tell you but they are too much for you to handle now. The Spirit will help you to know all truth when it comes to you. The Spirit does not speak on its own – it only says what the Father reveals. The Spirit will also reveal future events to you.

The Spirit will glorify me by showing you who I am – and everything I am is from the Father. The Spirit will show you just a part of that glory by taking it from me.”

JN 16:5-15

Coming testimony and rejection

“The Counselor is the Spirit of truth which travels ahead of the Father. I will send it to you from him. When it comes, it will testify about me. You too will testify because you have been with me from the start. I’ve said all of this to prevent you from going astray. You’ll be banned from synagogues. Worse, people will kill you, thinking they are honoring God. They’ll do all of this because they don’t know me or my Father. But I’ve said all this so when it happens you’ll remember I told you. I didn’t tell you this at the start because we were together.”

JN 15:26-JN 16:4

The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (and) Jesus’ gift of peace

The Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

“In just a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will. You will live because I live. Then you will know that I am in my Father, you are in me, and I am within you. The one who loves me is the one who knows and follows my teaching. The one who loves me is also loved by my Father. I will love him as well and I will reveal myself to him.”

The other Judas said to Jesus, “Lord how are you going to reveal yourself to us but not the world?”

Jesus said “Anyone who loves me follows my teaching. Then my Father will love him and my Father and I will make our home within him. Anyone who doesn’t follow my teachings doesn’t love me. What I’m telling you is not from me. It comes from the Father who sent me. I have told you these things while I’m here with you. But the Holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name will teach you everything and remind you of what I have told you.”

JN 14:19-26

Jesus’ gift of peace

“I leave you with the gift of my peace. I don’t give gifts to you like the world does. Don’t let your heart be troubled or afraid. You’ve heard me say that I am going away but I’m returning to you. If you love me, you should be overjoyed that I am going to the Father, because the Father surpasses me. I’ve told you this now so you can believe when it happens. I’m not going to speak with you for much longer because the Devil, the ruler of the world, is coming. He has no power over me because nothing of him is within me. Instead, I’m going away to show the world that I love the Father and do as he commands me to do. Now get up – it is time to leave here.”

JN 14:27-31

The way to the Father, Jesus reveals the Father, Praying in Jesus’ name, Another Counselor promised

The way to the father.

“Don’t let your heart be troubled. If you believe in God, then also believe in me. There are many rooms in my Father’s house. I would have told you if it were otherwise. I am leaving to prepare a room for you. If I do this, I will return and draw you to myself, so that you may be where I am. You know where I am going, and you know the way.”

His disciple Thomas said, “Lord, we have no idea where you’re going. How can we know how to get there?”

Jesus replied “I am the way as well as the truth and the life. Only those who follow my teachings will come to the Father.”

JN 14:1-6

Jesus reveals the Father.

“To know me is to also know my Father. From this point on you do know him because you’ve seen him.”

His disciple Phillip said, “Lord, show the Father to us and we will be satisfied.”

Jesus asked him, “Don’t you know me, Philip, after all this time we’ve been together? If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father. How can you ask me to show you the Father? Don’t you trust that the Father is in me and I am in the Father? I don’t speak for myself. The Father who lives in me does what he wants. Trust that the Father is in me and I am in the Father. If not, believe who I am because of the works.”

JN 14:7-11

Praying in Jesus’ name

“Truly, anyone who believes in me will be able to do the same things I do. In fact, that person will do even greater works because I am returning to the Father. If you ask for anything in my name, I will do it in order for the Father to be glorified through the Son. I will do anything you ask for in my name.”

JN 14:12-14

Another counselor promised

“If you love me, honor my commandments. I will ask, and the Father will send you another Counselor to always be with you. The Counselor is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth. The world cannot see or know the Holy Spirit – this is why they can’t receive it. But you know the Spirit because it is in you and stays with you. I’m not abandoning you – I’m returning to you.”

JN 14:15-18

The promise of the Spirit

On the final and most important day of the festival of Sukkot, Jesus stood and shouted, “Anyone who is thirsty should come to me and drink! Just like the Scriptures say, anyone who believes in me will have rivers of living water flowing from their very center.”

He was talking about the Holy Spirit, which his believers were going to receive. The Spirit had not been received yet because Jesus hadn’t yet gone to his glory in heaven.

JN 7:37-39