I have always known you are present in everything. But you are also present in the body: listening, teaching. Rather than touching. We have so grown accustomed to touch and feeling that we gradually come to an appreciative response to your Presence. We arrive at the part of our lives that is beyond understanding. It is mystery. It is love of God. It is obedience.
Mary Oliver, fourth stanza of “Six Recognitions of the Lord.”
Most of us are not fully comfortable in our bodies and certainly are not often seeking God’s presence there. Well, perhaps in our hearts. Yet God is in the lungs, the arms, the brain, the feet, all of our body. “I have come to cherish my body’s wisdom in all its dimensions,” writes Christine Paintner in The Wisdom of the Body.
As we learn to listen to our body, we learn to listen more deeply to God. I hear God’s wisdom in my body, through other people, the Word and worship. The body is a special grace for God embodied the Word by becoming Incarnate (made flesh) in Jesus.
As I listen more and more to my body, I begin, too, to enter “the part of our lives that is beyond understanding.” Our faith is about our willingness to enter into the mystery of Jesus Christ, living deeply connected to God within and God present in all creation. From this place of mystery our experience of God’s love can deepen.
In hearing the wisdom we come to obedience. I admit the word “obedience” remains difficult for me. How many of us want to obey someone else, even God? Yet God’s wisdom is like my mother over many years until her death reminding me to rest. Near the end of her life this wisdom began to sink in, and I laughingly told her I might now obey. I am still trying. It is obedience to our inner integrity which may call us like Jesus to obedience unto death, “even the death of the cross.” (Philippians 2:8). We live love in this life to life beyond.
As we allow ourselves to know our bodies which God gave us, to listen well, we feel the wisdom deep in our bones. From this we can come to obey the One who made us and knows the path of freedom and love and what it is to be fully alive for ever and always. This is mystery, beauty and grace – and we embody all three. Thanks be to God.