December 20 – Beyond Avoidance.
What should you have done this year but didn’t because you were too scared, worried, unsure, busy or otherwise deterred from doing? (Bonus: Will you do it?) (Author: Jake Nickell)
This year I ignored and otherwise avoided every possible opportunity to improve my relationship with my own body – a fact that is incredibly ironic given the amount of time, words and reflection I have focused on issues of embodiment and incarnation.
It would be overly simplistic to call myself a hypocrite and move on to something else. Though I am inclined towards hypocrisy as much as the next person (I’ve noticed that while most of us dislike other hypocrites, we regularly hold ourselves to different standards on an issue here or there), I can also say with utter honesty that reclaiming the body in Christian thought and life is one of my great passions. I believe that it needs to be done. I believe that it is important. I know in my heart of hearts that bodies matter, including my own. Sometimes it’s just easier to think about things than it is to actually live them.
This year fell into that “sometimes” category quite nicely.
So here I am, looking at how I’ve treated my incarnate self over the past twelve months…and I’m stuck with the reality that I haven’t treated myself particularly well at all. It’s not that I’ve been mean or intentionally harsh – it’s that I haven’t approached this Lara-in-the-flesh with any intentionality at all. The mind has been cultivated: I’ve read and written and meditated and discerned. The heart has been watered and given room to grow. But the body? Well, the body’s been given a couch and a bag of Cheetos and told to quiet down.
But she hasn’t been quiet. Instead, this body’s been nudging me in a desperate grab for attention: wrists and fingers on fire when I write too much, hands that throb and lose their grip for no good reason, glistening white hair sneaking in like the first snow of the season… Every sign she gives points an unwavering finger towards the reality that if this body of mine is going to be my friend in life, I need to start paying attention to her NOW.
And so it is. I can either ignore her for another year, or I can do right by her starting now. Vegetables, exercise, nurture, consistency, discipline – It’s really a frightening thing, this realization that I’ve got so much work to do. Frightening enough that what I really want is a cookie. Or some fudge. Or those magical and comforting french fries. You know, to soothe the fear…
Maybe a manicure and pedicure are in order: a zero-calorie treat for hands and feet that are about to get a whole lot more use. It’s not a cookie (or a jog in the park), but it will do – it’s definitely a start!
You who knit us together in our mother’s wombs –
be with us as we unravel old habits
and stitch together new garments more fitting for the journey towards wholeness.
Give us humor as we try new things (and sometimes stink at them).
Give us tenacity as we work towards endurance.
Give us gentleness as we learn to love our precious selves-in-flesh.