CALEB JOSEPH WARNER
I gather and gather and no natural force will stop my mounting power. I hover about the earth and stammer thuds. I cast my shadow over roofs and fields and mothers clamor at their husbands’s absence. I billow and hammer!! But the next morning, when you think I am off in some other town breaking necks and tearing trees to shreds, I hide above the lake with no strength left. My white hair is thin and blows easily. You can see the scalp of the sky.
The shell containing hope trickles away. Jesus was the firstfruits of hope and he did not just cast off the shell—he ascended on airfoils and he did not stall, but maintained the attack. And he could not be moved out of the air, but rose and burst through the clouds and the disciples could not see him anymore and Jesus coolly carried our human form with him into heaven.
So Jesus was the firstfruit of calm ascension past the tremulating turtle shells of lightning storms. The turtle shells of storms contain their flickers of light and the rain falls and the shell wastes away to wisps tracing out the memory of flight. And we raise our heads and say, “It’s coming down so hard. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it come down this hard.”
And we do not lose heart. Though our outer shell is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen past our fright contained in shells. For the things that are seen are turtles that hunger and bite and the things that are unseen are eternal and light as fleet bird bones lit with light.
For a little while, we must contain our flickers of hope and not lose heart, though we are as light and dissipate as clouds. And we will gain the weight of heavy, glimmering things and with this weight we will coolly ascend the heights of heaven and our crossed shadows will barely trace across roofs and baseball fields. But we rise some more in our living coffins—who can find our shadow now?
For a little while, we feel the instability in the air of our hearts. And we waste away and the tails of our thunder untwine and fall to earth like safety ropes. So the world will hope when they look up at us and say, “I’ve never seen a coming down like this.”
We plant hope when we do not mean to; even our envy blasts bright.
Our hope is the waiting in the chair while the spirit lifts us up the air. And the dimming darkness in the light of hope (a hope contained within) meets us as nothing but light and temporary affliction.
But what are the light and temporary afflictions that fill our lives with instability and fit us to burst with rumbling blues? We know sadness, we know sadness, we know sadness.
II. Affection, familial attachment
III. Ambition, visions of the future
IV. Creative inspiration
V. Romantic desire
VI. Diminution (we are overcome by men and mountains bigger than us, but sublimity and subservience leave us with shame at seeing just how lesser we are compared to the powerful things)
These are the Eight Afflictions of the Soul. And while they are light and temporary compared to our future glory, they still threaten to consume us. He or she who is born is born with these conditions and illnesses. The light and temporary affliction that gives way to all these children is the affliction of being a soul living in an unredeemed world. The world groans so deeply in the aches and pains of its own rebellion and longing, that it is hardly present-minded enough to hold our souls as it should.
These are the eight illnesses that prove we are souls in matter, but matter corrupted and angered. These eight illnesses arise from the unredemption of the world. Our immune systems are not just weak, they are broken and they have to be fixed.
The eight afflictions—memory, romantic desire, inspiration, ambition, affection, diminution, solitude, and death—will kill us if we do not get the right treatment for them. Each affliction is meant to be a property functioning properly. Yet when we are born, we are born broken. In this life, it is our hope that helps to heal us and get everything working properly again.
With a doctor who knows how to administer hope, we can treat the conditions of memory, romantic desire, inspiration, ambition, affection, diminution, solitude, and death. We will walk through what this looks like for each affliction of the soul. For the afflictions are light and temporary only when we receive the cures the Holy Spirit administers.