This is My Body

I’ve been visiting an Episcopal church recently and was intrigued that they share the Eucharist every Sunday. Most denominations I’ve been a part of only offer Communion once a month at the most. As I dug deeper, I found a connection between Christ offering his body at the Passover supper and how Episcopalians think about human bodies. As the rector begins the Communion portion of the service, she says:

“We give thanks to you, O God, for the goodness and love which you have made known to us in creation . . . “

The underlying theme is that our bodies are part of that goodness that is missing in most Protestant teaching. God came into our world in a human body. I began to consider this different way of thinking about bodies for the spiritual practice of study for the upcoming season of Lent. Could thinking about God embodied in Jesus help me heal my relationship with my body? How might this lead to being more alive, in touch with sensations and feelings, in my body? How would I care for my body differently?

I started reading Hillary McBride’s book, The Wisdom of Your Body: Finding Healing, Wholeness, and Connection. She talks about how most of us go through life as floating heads. [1] That really hit home. My family, the corporations I worked for, and my church for the past 20 or more years emphasized the importance of right thinking. The quality of your intellect, how fast you processed new concepts, or how well you articulated your position was highly valued. McBridge describes my floating head’s relationship to my body quite accurately.

“my consciousness, my sense of myself as a person, was stuffed into my skull, like a balloon pinched at my neck. The fingers of patriarchy, pain, avoidance, sorry, and objectification were firm around my neck, the base of the balloon.” [2]

hillary McBride Ph. D.

As I continued to read, I began to consider how becoming more embodied would affect my relationship with other bodies I come in contact with every day. McBride quotes Philip Shepherd, who believes that being divided from our own body, creates a divide from “the body of the world.” We can’t really get that we are part of a “living continuum” of bodies, those who lived before us, those living now upon whom we depend for so much, and those of the next generations affected by how we live today. [3]

Perhaps this is what Jesus was getting at when he said, “This is my body.” He wanted us to remember the literal physical body that he inhabited as connected to our bodies so many years later. Not just the physical body, but the body as a symbol of the entirety, the personhood of who Jesus was.

As we move through Lent to Easter, may we connect with Jesus as a wholly embodied human. May this lead us to connect inward and hear the stories our body has to share with us.

[1] Hillary McBride, Ph.D., The Wisdom of Your Body, Kindle (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2021), 9.
[2] Ibid, 10.
[3] Ibid, 14.

Photo by Külli Kittus on Unsplash

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