Treasure Valley Prays

Embodiment

children playing and laughing
“The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”
(John 1:14)

It is possible to grow up within the Christian tradition with little regard for bodies. Sometimes the gospel is interpreted as if the body is simply a necessary distraction that will be discarded when our “real” lives begin. I have found that I cannot encounter Jesus without wrestling with what it means that God took on flesh. During the Lenten journey towards the cross, I am aware of Jesus’ body. I am aware that having a body makes God vulnerable. A body is bruisable, beatable, mortal. Yet having a body also means that God can be touched by God’s creation. God can be hugged, fed and comforted. What a confounding and intimate mystery.

I work with young children. I have marveled at how deeply embodied children are. All experiences and emotions are mediated and interpreted through our bodies. In a single day this week I have given ice packs and bandaids while wiping the tears of those who are hurt. I’ve sat with students and helped them calm their breathing until a storm of emotions is past. I’ve danced with those who are celebrating. I’ve given and received hugs, laughed, and played rock, paper, scissors. I have helped friends stay safe when their anger has overwhelmed their bodies and I’ve used sign language to communicate with friends who have difficulty with words.

I am noticing that in elementary school relationships are all about embodied experiences. Words don’t create bonds, being present does. As an adult, there are times when I’d like to imagine I can have purely intellectual relationships…or that my virtual relationships can replace physical presence. One of the truths that the pandemic made plain is that being physically present to one another matters. Handshakes, hugs, smiles, shared meals and shared conversations are vital parts of relationship building. Our bodies matter. Being present to one another matters.

Genesis tells us that it is not good for man to be alone and John tells us that the Word took on flesh and dwelt among us. What does it mean that God was present to us in this way? Would it change me to remember when I am hungry that God was once hungry too? Would I hear the reading of the Psalm differently knowing that Jesus read and heard those words in his worshiping life too? Could Christ’s life transform what it means to eat together, laugh together, walk together…Does Christ’s experience of death change how we face our own deaths?

There are always more questions than answers. What we do know is that Christ is present with us in the most profound way. For that we give thanks.

Christ’s life transform what it means to eat together, laugh together, walk together…Does Christ’s experience of death change how we face our own deaths?

There are always more questions than answers. What we do know is that Christ is present with us in the most profound way. For that we give thanks.

Picture of Sarah Henthorn

Sarah Henthorn

Member of Trinity Lutheran, Nampa ID

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