We are afflicted in every way … always carrying in the body the death of Jesus… For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison…
2 Corinthians 4:8-17
‘Beautiful,’ Paul says, laying down a handful of sand. We begin back along the tire track, the smallest trail in the middle of the desert. Heel to toe, Paul’s feet curb the walls of sand. About a hundred feet away, Paul grabs another fist of sand. ‘I will always carry this sand,’ Paul smiles, ‘with me.’
Back at our little mound of sand Paul drops his luggage of sand. Our mound, our sand, is barely visible amidst all the sand. Golden hues zebra across the landscape. ‘This sand is coming with me,’ Paul says bending down, toes dipped in sand, ‘I’m taking it with me across the cosmos.’
‘Just as Jesus is carrying around his own,’ Paul squeezes his hands together. A liquid drips from his pinky, I see sand stuck beneath his nails. ‘It’s called eternal for a reason.’
‘It’s an eternal weight,’ Paul says bent on his knees, ‘see this scar?’ I see a cut on his side. He rubs sand in it. ‘Like this scar, most of these scars will be with me forever.’ Again, I see a liquid drip from the wound. It seems gluey, a paste, white. It smells like an orange, a rose, a citrus, a flower.
‘Just as Jesus will always have holes in his hands,’ Paul wraps his hands around his belly. He is limp, his head tilting. ‘A little pain always spurs grandeur.’
‘A prick of pain in heaven,’ Paul holds his hands to his face, ‘is an eternal weight. It sits in the center of glory.’ The scars, to his side, begin to golden. His body stays pink. I see his eyes grey, and in his side I see a window to his soul. A soul wrapped like a tortilla in souls.
We make our way back, back for another fist of sand, on the fringe of the sublime.