Sunday, July 11, 2010

The body, and the spirit

I've been listening to "Speaking of Faith," one of my lovely free podcasts, about the relationship of people to the earth and the way it has been misinterpreted by Christians, and it resonates with my beliefs. One thing it points out is that modern Christians seem to have this disembodied idea of spirituality: that it has nothing to do with the body. Eating and drinking and sexual conduct (not so much that) have become disconnected from spirituality, and that is incorrect. The way you do everything in your body and through your body, and its impact on all of creation, including your neighbor ... it's all spiritual. Everything is either sacred or has been desecrated, says a poet on this podcast. Nothing exists that was not originally a blessed creation of God, if you believe in God.

What we eat, how we eat, how we view food, where we get our drink and how aware we are of the profound blessing of clean water and plentiful food; how connected we are to the growing of food and the sources of clean water; all are spiritual practices. But people have become so very vulgar in the way they eat and drink. It's the same story with sex. "Be fruitful and multiply" was what God commanded all of creation! It wasn't a suggestion. Yet it's hard to imagine that one of the most sacred practices is sexual consummation. And I certainly think that sex for its own sake (in a loving, committed relationship) is meant to be a glorious, joyful, and reverent expression of one of life's greatest pleasures.Does that seem wicked to you? Doesn't seem like it mixes with spiritual practice, but it does. Quite intimately.

To continue with this post, which was way too short by my usual standards ... the main symptom of our modern dis-ease is how disconnected we have become from our bodies. It reminds me of the futuristic animated movie where people can no longer use their bodies at all, after generations of disuse -- they are huge, formless blobs, unable to even walk, and machines do everything from transporting people to feeding them. (The movie didn't go into the mechanics of reproduction, and I'm glad.) It's a grotesque exaggeration of what is really happening.

Do we even recognize our body's signals -- physical tiredness or exhaustion, fullness, hunger, thirst, sexual desire? It seems like they are so easily ignored or perverted. Tired? Grab another energy drink! Thirsty? Drink a soda or some other beverage that doesn't resemble water and does not quench a true thirst.

Hungry? Are you sure?

When was the last time you were really famished? When is the longest any of us has ever had to go without a meal? There is something to that spiritual discipline of fasting (I keep saying, without practicing it).

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