No, this isn't about food (though many of you know I'm usually an excellent eater). Nope, in my prayers today I'm thinking about our tendency to try to divorce our bodies from our spirits-- nurturing one, while denying the other. It's not a separation that works for me.
Mr. M and I have recently started lifting weights together. We'd talked about it for a while, and both finally got up the nerve to join the big burly guys at our gym. (Ever notice how much gender segregation there is at your fitness club? Men by the free weights, women on the cardio machines?)
I've run for a while, and practiced yoga for a while, but lifting is giving me a new perspective on what the body that God created for me can do. It's interesting to discover which parts started out stronger (my calves), and which ones are only beginning to develop strength (my biceps). We could easily make a metaphor about exercising spiritual gifts and practices, and taking inventory of the places we're called to grow, but I want to leave that alone today. I want to pay attention to the way our bodies are uniquely precious. I believe it's holy to celebrate them, use them, thank God for them, and listen to them. They do tell us things about our spirit (why do my arms tingle when I'm overwhelmed?!), but they can be speak for themselves, too.
Some of us have felt (I know I have) like only one part of our bodies defined us (he's bald, her nose is crooked, they have bellies). That's so rarely a positive experience-- even when the attribute is being praised! If we don't want one part of our body to define the whole to the exclusion of the rest, it doesn't seem that we should let our spirits define our selves to the exclusion of our bodies. I believe in wholeness.
So this week, my prayer is gratitude for physicality. I've got a cranky iliotibial band and a hamstring that I have to keep an eye on, but I'm so glad to run, to laugh with giggles that shake all of me, to pet the cats, to hold my friends. I'm glad to have a face that I can scrunch up in concentration, cold toes to slide under my husband, knees to kneel during confession. Thanks be to the God of our bodies.
I'll be giving thanks for your whole selves this week, too. Your fingers that tap keyboards, your hands that garden and sauder and stir stew, your feet that jazzercise, your arms that lift babies, your feet that drive cars, your ears that hear birds, your vocal cords that vibrate, your hearts that swish oxygen through you. I'll be happy to offer thanksgiving or supplication for anything else, too, if you let me know what you need!
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