If anything is sacred, the human body is.
To be able to experience the Divine One moving in and through me in everyday life, has been a journey of many years. I remember feeling it as a young girl while sitting in church, walking through my grandmother’s garden, or lying beneath the stars at camp. It was a deep knowing that “surely God is in this place,” as the song goes. That Spirit was all around me, radiating through stained-glass windows, flowers, or constellations and, at the same time, within me, experienced through my body, if I would allow myself to feel it.
As a woman on pilgrimage into her truest self, I can’t help but wonder what happened along the way. Where did do we as women lose that divine connection we may have felt through our bodies as young women? Likely, it happens in early adolescence when we became overtly conscious of our physical selves. In our preteen years, we begin to doubt, even distrust, our bodies. Bellies and breasts are changing. We are being transformed into someone else without our conscious involvement or permission. Is it a wonder that at this formative period of our lives we begin to develop suspicion about our bodies?
Combine this self-doubt with societal and religious implications that our bodies are bad (a source of temptation), inferior (the “weaker sex”), and flawed (in need of improvement), and we have a good case for amnesia, forgetting our body as a conduit to the Divine. For centuries now, we’ve internalized these messages, so it is not surprising that most women truly dislike and mistrust their bodies.
From adolescence on, it seems, our bodies are not our friends: They are enemies we wage war against through diets, radical exercise programs, cosmetic enhancement, even surgery. We may believe that our bodies betray us again and again. They do not look or behave like we think they should: They gain weight; miscarry or are infertile; cyclically rage (PMS/menopause); sag, fall out, fall apart through aging; become chronically sick or ravaged with disease—all without our having a say in the matter. Who can trust a “friend” who acts like that?
Knowing this, what a stretch of the imagination it is for us to conceive of our bodies as sacred! To believe they are magnificent containers created by the Divine to house our souls on earth. And, perhaps, even more important than this, that our bodies are a direct means of communication with our Source.
Yet it is only through our bodies that we can have a truly intimate relationship with the Holy. Our mind, which can conceive of "God" through thought, is housed within our brain. Our senses—sight, hearing, and smell—provide the stuff of which our thoughts and feelingsabout the world are made. Our sense of touch, along with internal body responses—heartbeat and breath— attune us to the world outside of our bodies, alerting us there is something of significance there. Our lips give voice to this experience. Our hands and feet creatively express our understanding of this experience. Our bodies, therefore, are the ultimate vehicle through which we communicate with the Divine. This vessel, this body, is a sacred conduit for the flow of Spirit.
Jay Michaelson (author of God in Your Body) says that our greatest spiritual achievement on a personal level is not to transcend the body (as some spiritual systems would advocate), but to fully embrace it, to join the body and spirit together so we are, at last, whole human beings, not fragmented versions of ourselves. I agree ...
The journey into our truest selves is dependent upon our ability to realize that our bodies are sacred. For a number of years now, I've been living out the 2nd Transformational Truth in Your Truest Self: I Trust My Body's Divine Connection. I am healing my body issues and embracing this vessel as a wise guide more and more each day. I am learning to listen to it, honor its wisdom, and follow its lead. How about you?
Where are you on this journey to reclaiming your body as sacred?
And/or how do you experience the Divine through the vehicle of your body?
I am eager to hear ...
And be sure to make a comment today or tomorrow to win—yes!—another copy of Your Truest Self. I am giving one away right now. Remember, it's birthday time and I'm giving away books all month.
And congratulations to Kel (Leaping Kangaroo) and Lisa (She Who Is Honoring Her Sparkle) who won a copy of YTS from last week's post. Hooray for you! Enjoy with my blessings.
Photo of "Festival Dancers"by Thomas J. Abercrombie.