“I sing the body electric…”
One Particular Body
Have you ever looked at your fingers? I mean, have you seriously looked at your fingers to really see them? Intricate workings of flesh – fiber, sinew, nerve, muscle, blood, and bone – delicate and strong, with the sensitivity of touch and the power to press and to grasp…
I don’t remember the last time that my fingers grasped anything. So small and light are they… with only enough strength of movement still to press an easily triggered mouse button – though, as always, the sense of touch alive and electric, but what I touch now must come to me… for the muscle of my arm can no longer reach my fingers out to the surface of skin or petal that I desire, of wood, fur, liquid, stone, or glass. The weakness of my hands cause my fingers to tremble in motion, like the new and uncertain legs of a fawn. And, so, it is with a kind of sad affection that I gaze upon my fingers… and, thus gazing, marvel at what lies beneath and what lies beyond…
The Marvel of the Human
The human body is amazing – wondrous are all lifeforms of flora and fauna, soul animated and alive, quivering with quickness like the hummingbird and dragonfly, ponderous in muscularity like the whale and rhinoceros, bare slowness of movement like the sunflower and grass. But, the human body quivers and ponders as well in the bare workings of mind – brain and body alive with a conscious presence that is Mystery and Spirit. And the far-flung galaxies and twinklings of other worlds, within and without, are as much home to our hearts as hearth and bed bower.
I am a human being. And my body is weakened and deformed by tiny lapses of cells – and yet I am wonderful. In just such human form as mine, God was pleased to dwell… though in prime of life rendered physically debilitated and immobile…
For humans are the special love of God, our forms sanctified….
The Soul and the Body As One Person
Gravity and electromagnetism, forces weak and strong, have gathered and coalesced stardust and chemistry into my particular form under the direction of the Divine Composer and Maestro, who breathes my life into me. My life is a gift of Creation: material body and spiritual soul united as one person in the unfolding of Divine Will. My body would not be my body without the divine gift of my soul – and my soul would not be my soul without the divine gift of my body. My soul is of spirit and spirit is eternal, but my one, unique and particular soul only came to be this one, unique and particular soul in the animation of my body. The human body needs the soul and the human soul needs the body. There is only paradise, pure and perfect bliss, when one is transformed in immortality and the other fulfilled in eternity, one never ailing the other, transcending stardust and chemistry and the limitations of the mind.
My body is not a prison for my soul to escape. Neither is my body a meaningless shell with which I can do whatever I please. My body is part of the universe, belonging to the Creator and Master of the universe, alive, real, essential, and here… me. Every breath I take is the Will of God. Every movement I make is within the cosmic dance, sometimes misaligned, sometimes in accord. And within accord, within harmony, is the reason for suns burning and waters churning and the spinning of every planet, meteor, seed pod, and bee. And every apple, egg, and nut that I have eaten, every grain of wheat and slice of meat ground up and consumed, is the making of me. I am formed and sustained, body and soul, with every story heard, song sung, and gentle kiss felt; with every moon-rising seen, flower smelled, and syrup tasted. No cheek that I’ve caressed, though long ago, is wasted; the water drunk, the laughter shared, the tears shed, the wound received, and the prayer expressed shape me and become me, and the air, and ground, and people around me likewise impress and are impressed.
Humans, more than any other of the divinely created animals, are responsive to the cosmic song in the Unmoved Mover – even when we choose less than responsibly. Because we have the capacity for freely chosen and unconditionally willed love, if we don’t muck it up and fill that capacity in with the dense lead of finite and selfish concerns, then the breath of God will fill us eternally with the divine gift of life – body and soul, now and forever.
For this reason, a human person, a woman named Mary, who was the mother of Jesus – the mother of God – was received, body and soul, into the immortal realm beyond finite space and time, so that she would never cease to be what she was most wonderfully: human. Catholic and Orthodox Churches proclaim this in doctrine and dogma and feast days of joy, hope, and gratitude, so that every human being may acknowledge and remember that the human body is sacred and that we are most fully ourselves, who God created us to be, when we are truly human – fully united in body and soul. And, so, I contemplate the sanctity of the human body on this First Friday of the month of August, the month in which we commemorate and celebrate, in the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, this profound truth: matter matters to God, Who loves humankind and sees, in its loved and fulfilled entirety, divine good without ceasing…
Lord of All,
help me to remember and to celebrate
the sanctity of my body
and the fullness of who you created me to be,
body and soul.
I am yours…
the dense and the electric, the strong and the weak.
Help me also to better believe
in the resurrection of the body and the life of the world to come.
© 2014 Christina Chase
I don't call myself a poet — but the beating of my heart is poetry. I don't call myself a theologian — but the light of my mind seeks the Divine. Who I am is a Child of God, a Divine Creation, a person devoted to being fully human, fully alive.