Hinges: A Curiosity, Part 1
I recently came across the phrase Caro Cardo Salutis. It means: The flesh is the hinge of salvation. ‘Hinge’ caught my attention in particular (but the collocation was not lost on me as it was also the day a pelvic bone slipped out of alignment) and so I rolled over on the hot pad in bed and grabbed from my shelf Grace Dane Mazur’s quaint treasure of a book entitled, serendipitously, Hinges (check out those blurbs!)
Somewhere I read (and for the life of me I cannot remember where) of the flesh as the expressly relational aspect of the animate being. This was a refreshing perspective that differed from a notion I have always found deeply suspect: the flesh limited to a metaphor for sinfulness. Karl Rahner wrote, ‘The reality beyond all . . . has come down and dwells in the innermost reality of our flesh.’ This is truly a marvel . . .
I am still ruminating on (whether or) how this relational sense of flesh differs from that of ‘body’. One of the prophets taught (and do hear this verse musically in gorgeous soprano . . . it comes in the second verse – here): ‘. . . though worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.’ (Job 19:26) There are, I see, various translations of this fragment, and they seem to struggle with the flesh. Where the KJV goes with ‘yet in my flesh shall I see God’, other renderings have ‘from my flesh’ and wander over to the other side of the meaning spectrum to ‘without my flesh’, or ‘out of my flesh’.I have no ancient languages so I rely on the experts. But, ‘in my flesh’ and ‘without my flesh’, do they not also seem to you contradictory? I wonder where the difficulty lies?
The translations appear complicated. The theologian Catherine Keller has a juicy gloss on –pli, that little sound that gets in the middle of a lot of good words, like complicate. It means, variously, fold, envelope, letter, habit. The -pli functions, I see, as a kind of a hinge. This -pli feels soft(er), though, more flexible, more laden with possibility. [More on Keller’s intriguing latest, here and here]. Keller is more aptly described as a theo-poet, actually, a feminist-cosmo-theo-poet, and she has some really interesting and challenging ways of interpreting life in the flesh which would take me an awfully long time to wrap my mind around by myself, I think.
Still, I’m thinking mostly today about the relating flesh–sensing, responsive, inter-being–as that place where salvation,* as the ancient Fathers recognised, is to be found. Through this portal with its intricate folds & hinges, in this body, enfleshed (incarnated), salvation comes.
* from the Latin root salus (health) and whose etymology can be followed (down the rabbit hole) from health to ‘whole(-ness)’ and to ‘holiness’.