Honoring the Greater Body

I am very touched by the response to my post yesterday both in comments and in email.  I knew opening up this vulnerable place would begin to shift things in me again, move me again to that place where honoring my body is a gift rather than a burden.  I am always struggling in some way with the tension between the limits of my body and the calling of my creative inspiration, but it occurred to me that this tension sets up an antagonism between the two which I don’t at all mean to build. 

I believe deeply that caring for the body is central to caring for my vocation and calling, the two knit are together so that I can’t separate how I treat my body from how I respond to the ways God calls me into the world.  I nurture Sabbath rhythms in my life and resist as much as I can the hold a culture of doing can have on me.  

But I am beginning to ask the question of how I might not just see caring for my body as woven together with how I care for my vocation, as the body is the vehicle for my expression in the world.  I am beginning to see the care of my body itself as the primary vocation, regardless of how that facilitates our doing, something I am sure I have thought or said before, but as with all great truth it sometimes takes time to sink down into your bones. 

Perhaps learning to live in our bodies, and I mean to truly embrace both the profound dignity and pleasure, as well as tenderness and sometimes excruciating vulnerablity is the most important work we can do. To make sure the needs of bodies are cared for: that all bodies are well-nourished and touched in loving ways, given shelter and medicine they need, and not blown to bits with guns and bombs and other violence or neglect.  Or addressing the more subtle ways we do violence to our bodies through overwork and pushing ourselves, eating food sprayed with pesticides.

In this act of honoring bodies, we also honor the Greater Body, that wonderful phrase Wendy used in her comment on the last post.  If we took bodies absolutely seriously, these very delicate containers of flesh and fluid, wouldn’t we also begin to love the wider body more deeply of which we are a part?  The communion of all people and creation?  That one Great Body which pulses and breathes with the presence of the Creator? Isn’t that what the incarnation is all about?

-Christine Valters Paintner

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