(Prequel Post here)

Standing on the winding road, a place no careless wanderer rode,
Passing o’er the rolling seas, the path, itself, upon the man doth seize.
This road’s not made, but rather grown; and in this work the earth doth groan.
The straitest road of greatest profit, to mind this path, take heed the Prophet.

To tread by careless is not allowed – to make this way, one cries aloud.
No trifling man can pass by idle; get off your lees, and burn your idol.
For all his heavy burdens bear, he can’t get by till back is bare.
Off of the path a darkness preys – the wise escape it in their praise.

Traveler, lay your gift upon the altar, give it all, and never alter.
The oxen strong treads in his course, his hide to perish: rough and coarse.
The beast may struggle all in vain, its blood poured out through slitted vein.
Its ashes fall below the grate, in death our praise to Him is great.

The pilgrim gives himself up wholly: this is the way that makes men holy.

Looking, again at the shrine in the center of the room, I beheld that it was the model of the Great Temple in the New Jerusalem, and the tabernacle prepared by Moses, the man faithful to make all according to the pattern revealed to him in the mount. I stood in the house of clay, for my body is the outer court.

About the shrine, I saw a great flange of skin; this flange is the unclean treading on the outer courts of the temple, the encroachment of the animal flesh upon the holy – for man, being made of dust of the earth, is of the earth. Like the animals who sprang forth of the earth, so also is the body of man.  He bears the carnality of his flesh until the dust returns to the dust whence it came, and the spirit goeth upward for:

…that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die:
And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain:
But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body.
All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds.
There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.

And being in the image of God, man is three parts in one being – and it is the embryo of heaven that springeth up from the Seed of Truth.

This flange about the shrine is the abiding mastery of the flesh over my soul, who must rather be master of the body. For the body like an arrogant goat belligerently seeks to be first; its natural desire in its limited knowledge is to pursue only that which suits its fancy; and as a goat climbs to the peak of a rock that it may be above mastery, so the flesh doth vaunt itself above direction.

Looking past the foreskin of the shrine, yea staring into the Seed of Truth within it, I saw the crossing of Jordan; when this Truth entered my heart, the ark of the covenant did stall the running waters at their flood-tide. And by the covenant I made as immersed in the waters of baptism – even this was my covenant, and the essence of the running water – that I, myself, was dead: my flesh buried beneath the waters that I live no longer in the ways of the dust, but abide for the life of the Seed.

And crossing over Jordan into the land of promise – gaining entry to the life by the Spirit of God, my heart must needs be circumcised and my belligerent goat put to death… and that not by acquiescence to a ritual of doctrine: some mere ‘outward sign,’ but the covenant demonstrably made unto God by the outward promise of death: the practical reality of living the Gospel.

And so I found before the shrine a great basin of water, born on the backs of twelve stoic beasts of burden (castrated bulls) all facing the four corners of the earth by threes – these are the twelve Sent messengers bearing the cleansing waters of repentance into all the earth (for even the apostles had to castrate their beasts of burden).

Receiving their testimony, I went to the waters again; as I washed in the basin I found in my hand a sharp flint stone, which had been fashioned by some ancient craft into a knife. As I grasped the leather-wrapped handle of the flint stone blade, mine eyes returned to the great foreskin flange surrounding the shrine, and knew what must be done. Approaching the shrine, I grabbed hold of the flange with one hand and carved it away from the shrine with the flint stone blade. Doing so was a great ordeal – it was hard work, and immensely painful, and as the work was completed, I collapsed to the ground, soaked head to foot in water and blood.

I saw through the seed, again, that I had been crucified; and like as Christ was circumcised from His body in death – so I also was circumcised with His circumcision in death.

…can ye drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?

And suddenly, my little house, that adobe hut was buried – as in something like a great mudslide; yet no longer was I within the hut, but was buried beneath the dirt, myself (for the hut is my perishable body). Soil compressed me on all sides, filled my nose and ears and pinned me as suspended in place under the ground, fully immobile. All was dark, and I – unable to breathe – could not even gasp for air, for the soil so compressed me. Every part of my being began to scream out for mercy – but no cry could escape my lips, and yet if it could it would be wholly muffled beneath the ground. Terror takes no time to swallow a man buried alive, and realizing the utter futility of his situation.

Then, ringing from the embryo of life within the casement of my being came the ancient saying, once again:

Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be…

And now was I buried with Christ in the waters of baptism… He who never sinned, and yet put to death His flesh that it may be mastered only by the will of God. For surely, though He knew obedience, yet:

…IN THE DAYS OF HIS FLESH, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;

So like the Messiah must needs be baptized to fulfill all righteousness, and His flesh resisted the death, likewise doth my body straitly resist as I bury it beneath the earth day by day. Yet as my soul takes the mastery over my flesh, and I submit to its death (despite its resistance), so springeth forth a tender shoot from the midst of my being.

For now when the flesh (your beast of burden) is oppressed unto subjection to God, and becomes rightly mastered by the soul (who in turn must serve the Spirit) is the spirit of man re-born, for:

…that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die:
And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain:
But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body.
All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds.
There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.

And being thus born again – this time from above the earth: celestial. Whereas my first birth was from the womb of flesh and I was then born with an earthly body that tendeth to the things of the earth: terrestrial, my new life springeth past the lower nature of the arrogant goat I was born with in the earth.

The celestial embryo did spring up from the midst of my terrestrial carcass. For I am as the anatomy of a seed; having an outer shell of flesh, an inner food storage (the psyche), and a celestial embryo of new spiritual life. And this celestial must spring forth to life, for:

flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.

Now as I lay beneath the soil, a buried seed, was my flesh cracked open for the embryo to spring forth, and all the contents of my heart and mind became its sustenance. Your spirit is fed by the contents of your soul as your flesh deteriorates to let the new life spring forth. Let your mind, therefore, be renewed, and receive with meekness the engrafted Word, that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith.

In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:
Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.
And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;

My flesh being now buried beneath the dust – in the place where it belongs, the spiritual germ did spring forth in new life, its blade pressing its way through, and rising above the level of the dust.

But a man is a very different kind of seed than any seed that is produced in the lower earthly realm – those made on the third day of creation. Man as a seed is sprouted from the True vine, and the True olive Tree; buried in the earth, He too did spring forth to produce seed on the third day. He is ‘the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after His kind: and God saw that it was good.’

And springing up from the earth on the third day, His seed was in Himself, to produce after His kind. This seed, being plunged into the earth, sent forth its roots to the very depths of the ground, for he descended to the lower earthly regions, and the work of His roots was so complete that He could spring forth on the third day and rise up into the heavenlies.

Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up.
After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight.
Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth.

When a man is planted he springs forth from the lower earthly realm of death (though his roots dig deep into that place) and his blade arises in the same realm from whence cometh the Olive Tree; and now doth even his lower earthly habitation fill with olive oil, for that which is intrinsically holy cannot be made unholy though it springs from the corpse of man (to the pure, all things are pure).

Man as a seed is an entirely new kind of creation. The body – the mere husk, and unlike those clinging to the temporal differences between seed-forms, each is the seed of the heavenly. There is, therefore, no Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female [black, nor white; Asian nor Arab, etc.]: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Christ’s seed is that of life to all men – there are only two races in humanity: the dead, and the living. Receive the seed of life, and be thou that of the living!

And so, springing up from my roots below, I rose above the dust, no longer a terrestrial being, but a celestial.

Part XI

[Thanks for reading, if you’ve enjoyed this post, it is a part of a larger series which starts here; each post links to the next at the end.  Enjoy :)]