Saturday, June 5, 2010

"I Sing the Body Electric..."

“I sing the body electric... [and] if anything is sacred, the human body is sacred” -- Walt Whitman

"Good for the body is the work of the body, good for the soul the work of the soul, and good for either the work of the other." -- Henry David Thoreau

"From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work." -- Ephesians 4:16


I’m sick. I’m stuck in bed. And I’ve been stuck in bed for two days!

For most of us, we can’t remember the last time we were stuck in bed for two days. Modern life keeps us moving so fast: Go here! Go there! Do this! Do that! There’s nary a time when we lay in bed—completely still—looking around, calming down, and slowing down.

So with all this laying around and little to do but think… I got to thinking.

I noticed that it’s not until I am really sick or injured that I start to pay real attention to the state of my body. Don’t get me wrong; I do my best to eat right and workout, but in those acts I typically don’t think much deeper than, I am doing this because it’s good for my body. I don’t neglect my body, but I sure do take it for granted at times. I just assume its going to work for me.

Marcel Proust once wrote that, "It is in moments of illness that we are compelled to recognize that we live not alone but chained to a creature of a different kingdom, whole worlds apart, who has no knowledge of us and by whom it is impossible to make ourselves understood: our body."

What about my body? What about yours? We’re miraculous. We’re complicated. We’re intricate. But the sad fact is this: we’re not paying much attention to our bodies (well, most of us).

Our heart beats blood all over our being so that we may live. Our legs are strong and tireless, and they carry us to every corner of the world. Our eyes are tiny but infinite; they see everything and beyond (if we let them). Our skin is durable and protective. It carries scars as a reminder of a lesson learned. Our lungs are deep and strong, and they endlessly filter air and goodness through our bodies… sick, awake, asleep…

So even though I’m sick, and my body is a bit incapacitated at the moment, I have to take a moment to marvel at it. I have to tell it “thank you” for the long string of healthy days when it did not ache, it did not stop, and it did not let up. It worked for me quietly and loyally while I was busy living my life.

Thank you to my arms for being strong and for giving me the ability to hold who I love. Thank you to my mouth for allowing me to taste all the extravagant flavors of food there are in this world, and a great thanks to my eyes for guiding my entire body in all things and everyday. Thank you to my heart for beating and never stopping and for orchestrating 28 years of vitality. Thank you to my mind, of all things, for giving me my abilities, my thoughts… and my beautiful memories.

You never fail me. You never ask for much. You always carry me.

So the lesson learned today for me? Well, are you familiar with that little promise “in sickness and in health?” I am pledging now, to my body, that I will sing its praises in sickness and in health. I will do more to care for it. I will do more to thank it. I will spend more time caring for its insides, rather than fretting about its outsides. I will stop picking at the flaws—how silly I was—and instead, I will look for the things to love.

I will be sure to praise my body and its creator every chance I get because although every body is different, every body is beautiful. And we must never lose sight of that.

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