Our Bodies and God
In my thirties while reading the book, “The Wellsprings of Life,” which described the processes of evolution from the macrocosms of the cosmos to microcosms of cells and atoms, I could see the unity within the differences that connected them all. It was a mind-blowingly beautiful picture of the oneness of everything and the awesomeness of God. I had to dance! I needed to praise with my whole self with that sense of the oneness of all in God.
I just read some insights by Episcopal Priest, Cynthia Bourgeault on Richard Rohr’s reflection site that mentioned experiences I have had tying our body to our spirituality. She says, “From ecstatic lovemaking, I learned not to fear dissolving into oneness.” I can relate to this because many years ago, my husband came home from a difficult day eager to make love. I’d had a pretty challenging day also. Good sex seems to make men feel better about themselves, but as a woman verbal and tender affirmation beforehand helps make sex ecstatic for me. So, my first thought was “Not, tonight.” But then, I thought about him needing that expression of love and decided to give him as much love as I could physically. And giving from love brought not only ecstasy, but a sudden sense of being totally one in every way with my husband and then it morphed into a sense of oneness with everything – the cosmos and even the Love that is God.
Bourgeault goes on to tell of the Russian Orthodox Archbishop Anthony Bloom’s story about a young man who was totally disillusioned with religion, but hungry for a life of faith. The Archbishop told him to go home and make one hundred full prostrations a day for a month. That means going flat on the floor face down arms outstretched for a long in and out breath before rising slowly. The young man returned with eyes glowing with faith. From that deep gesture of bowing and letting go of self, he had connected through his body to wellsprings of faith. Bourgeault says that our bodies with their natural movements can offer us spiritual insights in a way that the mind simply cannot.
Again, I can relate to this because, one time in my Catholic years, I was in charge of recruiting Scripture readers for the Masses and putting the lists in pigeonholes for them to pick up. The current priest was a Vatican ll liberal trying to move the emphasis off a static presence of God in the tabernacle to God’s active presence in the people connecting us in worship. So, unknown to me, he added the order to not genuflect when crossing in front of the tabernacle to the pulpit to read. Older members who grew up with a very vivid sense of the awesome presence of God in the consecrated bread in the tabernacle went ballistic and blamed me. I was furious with the priest both for not understanding how this effected people and for letting me be blamed. So, though I was a liberal that had quit genuflecting, when I next was a reader, I genuflected from irritation, not a sense of awe. When my knee touched the floor and my head bowed, I was overwhelmed with the sense of the majestic and awesome presence of God. I almost couldn’t stand back up.
At eighty-five I have been through years of body limits from pain and surgeries that often leave me with a sense of alienation from my body. Now, I have been swimming to build up muscles around my knees in hopes of avoiding replacements. Recently I have the pool to myself with the trees dancing in the breeze and birds calling to one another. I began to play inspirational music on my phone and to do some ballet movements to the music. I loved ballet when young, but haven’t been able to dance that way since my forties. The support of the water allows me to do this and somehow connects me with my body in a positive way and once again with a sense of being a part of the rhythms and beauty of nature and the creator of all of it. God is so all encompassing that there are many ways to connecting with God.