Imelda Shanklin: Resurrection
A resurrection is a rising to a condition higher than the one now known; a restoration to a high estate previously known.
That which has kinship with the elevated can raise itself to the level of that to which it is akin. A prince kept in ignorance of his birthright and reared in degraded surroundings easily accustoms himself to the pomp of courts and naturally takes on a royal bearing, when he learns what is his true estate.
Man is the prince of heaven. When he learns what is his true estate, he begins to remodel his life; he begins to deport himself as the prince of heaven. He enters into his own. The process of raising life from the earthly to the heavenly is a resurrection, a rising to a condition higher than the one now known.
That which has been lowered can be made to rise again, by the force of that out of which it comes. A stream having its beginning in a mountain will, by the action of gravity, descend to lower levels. But by the force that is in its source, the water can be lifted to the level from which the stream starts.
Our lives have their source in God. By the action of human desires they have been lowered to the level of human consciousness. But by the force that is in God our lives can be lifted to him, the source. The lifting of our lives from the human to the Godlike is a resurrection, a restoration to the estate known before human desires drew us to the level of human consciousness.
In its spiritual meaning, the resurrection is the soul's coming out of death into life. This meaning is objectively illustrated by the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ, who, by his personal application of the life principle, brought his own body out of the tomb. The soul is spiritually dead when it is oblivious to God; when it is the prince living in sordid conditions; when it is the mountain stream, inert, festering in undrained pools. The soul is spiritually alive when it is conscious of God; when it is the prince with uplifted countenance and kingly heart, restored to the royal father's house; when it is the water swirling out of the pools, renewed by action, seeking its exalted source, there to become cleansed by its original purity. Training the soul always to be conscious of God is the spiritual resurrection.
That which in itself is transcendental can be held to a transcendental level. Permanence of condition is assured when there is accord of condition with what is found in the condition. The resurrected soul is kept in heaven by a steady consciousness of its nature and its place in the heavenly zone.
We do not now remember having origin in heaven. Whence comes the confidence that we shall be restored to heaven?
O God, that we ever should accept the witness of the senses as credible, that we ever should submit to their conclusions as final. O God, that We ever should try to fit the soul's outlook to the perspective of the human. Cleanse our vision, thou virgin Purity within, that we may always see what is; establish in us the heart of faith, that We may rely upon what we know, and never upon what we think.
The assurance of the resurrection is a veiled memory of the King's palace; it is the song of the Fountainhead, calling us to the levels above.
Because we cannot now recall what took place in heaven before we departed therefrom, the resurrection has for us the value of a new life.
Any one who speaks to God will, by listening, hear God speak to him. Any one who seeks God will encounter God seeking him. Any one who faces the heights will have his countenance lighted by the glory which streams from the heights. These experiences are our witnesses of the resurrection, taking place in us. That which speaks in the untranslatable tongue tells us of a heaven fairer than words can picture; a heaven so close that it has its throne in the heart; a heaven so vast that its boundaries lie beyond the universe of all universes. We know that heaven is our goal. We know; the senses cannot add to our knowledge, neither can they take from our knowledge aught that is necessary to our assurance. By the same knowing, we know that our going to heaven is a return, a restoration to our native place.
"No one hath ascended into heaven, but he that descended out of heaven," said Jesus Christ of the Son of man, the Christ individual, the divine One, to whom each human mind has given human form.
Permanence of condition depends upon accord between the condition and the character of what is found in the condition. Therefore we cannot remain of the earth earthy. There is no accord between earthiness and that divineness which is the enduring character of us.
We finish with earthiness by remembering what we know — that we are of heaven heavenly; that the force that is in our origin pulls us toward our origin with an insistence that never ceases. By putting ourselves under the direction of the heavenly gravitation and submitting our acts to its demands, the resurrection is begun and completed in us.
There are unmistakable signs of the resurrection, when it begins definitely to work in us. The signs are first interior; they are in the consciousness.
The initial sign is a change in desire. The earthy loses its attractiveness, the heavenly increases in appeal. The appeal intensifies until we develop a passion to possess the heavenly. The change in us becomes thorough when our passion to possess the heavenly is changed into a passion to be possessed by the heavenly. By the intensity of our desire to surrender self to God, we have evidence of the work being done in us by the force that ultimately will wholly resurrect us.
We can change our desires. By contemplating the glory of the divine we train our desires away from the less exalted and unite them to that which leads them from height to height.
None of the work of the resurrection is extraneous to the soul. The work begins within the consciousness; it is developed in the consciousness; it is consummated in the consciousness. Of the interior signs, no one but the self can be aware. With exterior signs the self has nothing to do. Looking without for signs tempts us to comparisons, and comparisons arrest the soul's progress.
When some of the disciples of Jesus Christ asked him why they could not free the one possessed by demons, he told them that such work was done only by fasting and prayer. The disciples were looking for outer signs; they were comparing their work with the work of the Master; they had halted in their quest for God to examine the landmarks, instead of following the guide. By abstaining from human desire to succeed and by absorbingly desiring God, they could have done the work, and they could have done it only by such fasting and prayer.
The world will see the outer signs, but he who is wise does not take his attention from his object to bestow it upon results. He does one thing, and only one thing: He desires God.
How can we become able to desire God, to the exclusion of all other desire? Beneath the weakness of the human is the strength of the divine. Desire for God resurrects the divine strength that is in us. Divine strength holds us true to our purpose of seeking God.
Beneath the ignorance of the human is the intelligence of the divine. The surrender of our minds to God's mind resurrects his intelligence in us, and from the moment in which that resurrection begins in us we find in life nothing worth considering but God.
Beneath the discords of the flesh is the health of the divine. Beneath twisted limbs and distorted forms is the divine body; beneath the fret and the moan of suffering is the rhythm of the divine mechanism. The surrender of our bodies to God brings perfect coordination in the members of the body and the tuning of the members to the finest pitch of harmony. By our surrender the health of God is resurrected in us, and we eternally are healed.
Beneath the selfish grasp and the corroding fears of human love is the joyous calm of divine love. The surrender of our love to God's love eases the heart of every hurt and makes us confident that nothing can go amiss with us or with those whom we love. The surrender resurrects in us God's love, which is the fulfilling of all law. Thus are we established in just relationship with the whole world. The surrender resurrects in us God himself, who is love. Then fears can no more assail us. With Jesus Christ we are lifted up into the heaven of the Father's presence.
Beneath the human talent that wrestles with inhibitions, that pleads and wails and shrieks for an outlet, is the divine genius. By the surrender of our talents to God, his Holy Genius is resurrected in us. Then we are satisfied to be his agents of communication with the world. Of a surety we then know that success is correspondence with God, whatever he does through us, whatever he does not do through us; whatever he speaks by our speech, whatever he mutes which otherwise would have been given voice.
Every desire to surrender to God is a desire for the resurrection of God in us. Every partial surrender is a partial resurrection.
We do not begin the work of the resurrection through the greater ability to surrender which we hope to have a year hence; we begin by surrendering now. We do not begin the work when we have accomplished a greater spiritual development; we begin at our present development. We do not begin through a clearer finding of God in some other, more favoring environment; we begin in our present environment. For now or at no time can we surrender; where we are or at no stage of development can we surrender; here or nowhere is God. The ability is now ours, the opportunity is today, the place is here.
Let us begin where we are, today.
Let him that sees himself as a sinner, begin where he is, today. Let him desire to desire the mind that was and is in Christ Jesus. Then the consciousness of sin will grow less heavy. There will quicken in him the hope of a righteousness to be attained, not in his own might, but by the gentle workings of the Holy Spirit. There will come white gleams as of Easter lilies and the whisper of rejoicing alleluias beside the sepulcher of defeated death.
"If I be lifted up," said Jesus.
Let him that has felt the quickening of the divine, begin where he is: Let him desire to desire more of the mind which was and is in Jesus Christ. Let him commune not with death but with life; let him hold his mind truer to God than needle to the pole. Let him possess God; let him let God possess him. Then the work done in the garden of Joseph will be done in him.
But there is yet another matter to be accomplished.
"I ascend unto my Father," said Jesus.
There is a hill somewhat without the walls of old Jerusalem. He who begins where he is, today, and proceeds from where he shall be tomorrow, will know of this hill.
The hill is the last terrace in the ascent to the Father's house. For why Golgotha and the Easter song, if, pursuing its tomorrows, the soul should try to linger in the zone where fish are broiled upon the coals? Beyond our present ken, beyond our present hope, God, resurrecting himself in us, presents that mysterious universe suggested by the Master when he said that there are glories to be revealed when we become able to bear the revelation. Afar off? Yes. So once were the lilies and the alleluias.
When the seal of Caesar is shattered and the wrappings of death are laid by themselves, God has resurrected himself in the soul. When Bethany is reached, God takes the soul into himself, in that consummation spoken of by the Master: "I came out from the Father, and am come into the world; again, I leave the world, and go unto the Father."
Father, be in me the integrity and the faith which make for me each day an Easter day. Resurrect thyself in me until I awake with thy likeness, to dwell eternally in thee.