My body failed awfully early in life. Before I was sixteen, I was walking like an 80-year-old woman, unable to navigate stairs or open doors. The arthritis is under such control (with medication and exercise) now that I don’t think about it for days at a time, but as many teenaged girls develop unhealthy relationships with their bodies, arthritis instilled in me a disdain and disregard for this sweet creation God gave me.
For years, I developed a sort of dualism–discounting my body as lost, broken, a sort of ball and chain for my life, a necessary evil for living in this world–my body was just a vehicle for my mind, which was the real me. I punished my broken body with hours on the elliptical (which Duke girl didn’t?), sneered at its reflection in mirrors, cursed its aches on rainy days.
Then I discovered Anglicanism, and things got complicated.
The Anglican tradition has a particular penchant for the doctrine (and its implications) of God’s incarnation–the belief that God became a human named Jesus Christ and lived on the created earth. As I explored and undertook this Christian lens, my relationship to my body began to chance; it’s broken and imperfect, even diseased, but God is still using this efficient tool to communicate with humanity, both me and others. I can’t run like I could before arthritis, but I can still sit next to a dying person’s bed with this “broken” body. My bones wake up stiff and crack-y, but my joints don’t stop me from making food and enjoying eating with others.
In the last years, I’ve been noticing more and more how God communicates to me through my body–I believe God communicates to all of us through our bodies. It is that belief that has led me to pursue certification as a yoga teacher, which I will undertake in two weeks’ time. I’ve been exploring the relationship between spirituality and physical bodies for a few years in this space; below is an incomplete collection of those writings.