Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Fits and spurts

When I first thought about the Bible's and in particular Jesus' use of illustrations from the natural world (e.g. sparrows, sowers sowing and seeds growing, the wind blowing, etc.) I assumed (I suppose because all my teachers seemed to) that Jesus was simply using the opportunities presented by nature.

Later on I came to realise that, consistent with the divine creation, it was more accurate to say that God had first placed those things there in nature in order to reflect spiritual realities. The spiritual is the original; the physical dovetails it.

Now I think I'd say that it's not even strictly a matter of one being used to illustrate the other - God simply made an integrated, harmonious creation. The tendency to dichotomise (as opposed to distinguish) comes from an insufficient appreciation of the unity of spiritual and physical in God's creation. Don't read that sentence in a pantheistic way (i.e. as if creation is itself somehow divine) - the distinction is real. But when God wove the rope, he wove the strands together in perfect harmony; there was never a question of one needing to have different principles from the other. They are perfectly complementary. If the seen world's workings beautifully symbolise the workings of the unseen world - then, well, of course! If the principles of spiritual reality are represented to us again and again in the world of sense, we ought to expect nothing else.

This morning I did some speed training - this is a rare event. (If possible - i.e. not constrained by some other factor as I mostly have been the last year - I more tend to do a normal run at a raised pace, rather than particularly some speed training). Today I ran a 4 mile circuit, alternating between fast, forced-pace quarter-miles and recovery quarter-miles in which I just ran however slowly I needed to recover my breathing. This was more and more slowly as it went on!

The average overall pace here does not matter - the aim is to train to build up some speed. But, at the end, I saw that the average overall pace was not quicker than a steady four mile run done the other week. Fits and spurts - where those spurts are deliberately fast, painfully fast - did not lead to a better finish than a steady effort. And the fits and spurts could not be maintained - by the end, I felt pretty finished; whereas the steady effort was just a jog to begin warming up again (after the marathon 5 weeks ago); I could have maintained it for much longer.

Or in other words - my run reflected a spiritual reality about running and serving the Lord in the Christian race ...

1 comment:

Ned Kelly said...

Your first paragraph has a similar sense to Jewish theology, wherein there are ten layers of creation and what we do here on earth permeates through them. The Jewish explanations are almost Kabbalistic in nature, and I note how they tread very warily around the edges. However it is an interesting thought, the ten utterances of God in the creation week establishing the ten layers. I stuggle to understand much of their thinking, particularly when they make such statements in relation to the Flood as "When man became steeped in immorality the animals followed suit. There were few animals still loyal to their own species which Noah could allow on board the Ark. The others had all followed the evil ways of man". Ascribing morality to animals seems odd, unless genetic mutation leading to variation in species, which we understand as an outcome of the Fall, is somehow understood as a moral failure being reflected in the animals, though describing this as following the evil ways of man seems to be drawing a very long bow. Somewhere in all of this, there lurks the deeper understanding of the relationship between the spiritual and the material, but I feel like someone standing at the edge of the forest unable to see beyond the first line of vegetation.