Saturday, November 17, 2012

Earth Suits, Space Suits and Blind Beggars

Keith is a skydiver.  Once a skydiver, always a skydiver...even though his interests for the past few years have veered toward staying IN the "perfectly good airplane" rather than jumping out of it.  He worked hard to become rated as a light sport pilot....with plans to move on to the next step (private pilot) when time and money are available.  Anything related to being thousands of feet above the earth is often a topic at our house. So, about a month ago, when Felix Baumgartner made his epic jump from more than 24 miles up, it was a topic of interest and conversation at the McAndrew household.  I probably wouldn't have paid much attention if I wasn't married to Keith...other than maybe a passing "wth" is this guy thinking?

And not too long after Felix's (thankfully) successful jump, I came upon an article that looked at the spiritual implications of his jump....and the similarities between his space suit and our "earth suits" (this body of flesh that houses our spirits).

The article is written by Tzvi Freeman and is entitled

"Sky Dive From Heaven - What I learned from a guy who fell to earth from the edge of outer space at the speed of sound

It begins with a discussion of how (and why) Felix totally freaked out about being in the special suit he had to wear to survive the jump.  It protected his body from the minus 70 degree temps at those high altitudes and the speed of the fall.....prevented his body fluids from becoming gasses and other unpleasant stuff.  Red Bull sponsored the jump....and they called in a psychologist who specializes in these crazy....ahhhhhh, I mean extreme and high-performance sports.  Dr. Michael Gervais, was there to help Felix cope with the multiple panic attacks he was having because of the suit. 

Then the article takes a thought provoking twist by comparing Felix's jump to our leap from heaven.  From the spiritual realm to the earthly realm.  And we needed special suits to survive the jump into this realm....thus....our earth suits.  Our physical bodies. 

There is a line of thought in the Jewish tradition (and the object of musing in other faith traditions) that the skin God clad Adam and Eve with after the fall was not that of an animal but rather the skin of our earthly bodies. Interesting thought....and I've written about it before HERE.

So let's ponder the idea that we did preexist with God before our "jump to earth." What might the consequences be?

The article goes on to say:

But we become focused on the spacesuit. Yes, it’s an ingenious spacesuit, custom design for its mission, with its own built-in intelligence, mirrors, and a wide range of flexibility. But it’s clumsy, nonetheless. The body says, “I want this. I need that. I can’t do this. I must do that.” Our entire reality becomes exlusively that of the body and its demands, while the person within, the divine soul that fell from above starts to panic, to lose control, and eventually to fall into comatose.

Interesting thoughts....interesting comparisons.

Perhaps rather than comatose, one of the consequences of this jump is the blindness....the amnesia it produces.  We forget who we are and where we came from.  Our vision is obscured. We see through a glass darkly.  We gets glimpses of the spiritual now and then....a peek "beyond the veil" and every once in a while, there are "thin places" where the spiritual breaks through into the natural realm.  The more spiritually enlightened folks among us see much clearer....but still, their vision is clouded. 

In Ode: Intimations of Immortality William Wordsworth says this
Whither is fled the visionary gleam?
Where is it now, the glory and the dream?
Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!
Shades of the prison-house begin to close
Upon the growing boy.


                 Picture by "nattavut" from free digital photos

And then, a few days ago, while reading in the Gospels, I came upon a few verses in both  that brings some of my scattered thoughts together.  

Bartimaeus Receives His Sight

Mark 10: 46Then they came to Jericho. And as He was leaving Jericho with His disciples and a large crowd, a blind beggar named Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the road. 47When he heard that it was Jesus the Nazarene, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48Many were sternly telling him to be quiet, but he kept crying out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him here.” So they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take courage, stand up! He is calling for you.” 50Throwing aside his cloak, he jumped up and came to Jesus. 51And answering him, Jesus said, “What do you want Me to do for you?” And the blind man said to Him, “Rabboni, I want to regain my sight!” 52And Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and began following Him on the road.

There are parallels. We are all blind. Christ is the source of our healing, our sight, our understanding.. 

The Bible has been described as an onion....layer upon layer of meaning. Unpeel one layer only to uncover another layer.  There is the obvious, natural meaning of the words...and oftentimes...most times?....always?....there is a deeper spiritual meaning. Looking up the meaning of the words in the original language often deciphers the deeper meaning.  Since I am by no means a Greek scholar, I depend on resources like the Strong's concordance to help peel away layers of "the onion."

In this passage, the word translated "blind" is tuphlos in the Greek.  According to Strongs, it means "blind" and "mentally blind."  Not seeing does not always involve our eyesight. 

And the meaning of the Greek word anablepo translated BOTH as regain and sight in verse 51 means "to look up" and "to recover lost sight."  It comes from two root words....

which means "into the midst, in the midst, amidst, among, between"

Blepo has several that has to do with physical seeing, but also another that is metaphorical - to see with the mind's eye.

Notice the blind man wanted to REgain his sight. We, too, need to REgain our spiritual sight.  We need a cure for our spiritual amnesia….and to REmember who we are and where we came from….