Realizing the sacredness of the body

Wilted prickly pear cactus in a flower bed

I’ve been struggling with my body the last few days. I’m just coming off a concert weekend (which had moments of profound meaning that I plan to write about soon), and that’s always hard: four concerts in three days is a lot of standing and interrupted eating schedules, and my body is fond of reminding me lately that I’m no longer in my twenties, that I need to move more and be mindful of what I’m eating. But these past few days have hit me harder than I expected: during the second concert on Saturday I was struggling not to pass out during a long formal piece, yesterday I had to skip participating in an anti-racist march I felt very strongly I should attend, and today I found myself on foot fifteen minutes from my house, suddenly and without warning unable to fathom walking the rest of the way home. This is almost certainly a blood sugar question; my mother is hypoglycemic, and the symptoms are pretty familiar to me from watching her.

So really in the long run it’s not that big of a deal, since the solutions are fairly easy and unobjectionable: Eat well and on a regular schedule. Listen to your body. Carry snacks. But since I’m used to being able to blithely push my body without consideration for what it needs or wants, I’m having trouble accepting the bodily changes I’m experiencing, especially as they impinge on my plans. When I finally got in the door tonight and was angrily/confusedly venting my frustration to my husband, he told me, “you should write about that in your blog.” Because I’m a jerk when I’m hungry, I scoffed: I could hardly write about this on my food blog (“here’s a ‘recipe’ for disaster!”), and it wasn’t a religious issue, ok?! But after ravenously consuming around 8 oz. of hummus and getting my body chemistry somewhere closer to its balance point, I realized that he was (of course) right.

A few last green leaves on a bare hedge

Every morning, when I open the curtains to let the light of the day in, I say a very brief prayer: “As I open these curtains on the day, may I always remember that I am a part of the world, and the world is a part of me.” (That’s about as much thought as I can manage before coffee.) In saying this small affirmation, I remind myself that I am inextricably a part of the web of being: that my actions have an effect on the world around me, and that I am necessarily changed by the world through which I move. The Unitarian Universalists phrase it well in their seventh principle: “Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.” Though it’s not explicitly stated, my morning affirmation is also an embrace of the sacredness of the world: the earth is worthy of honor and protection, because it is sacred as much as any god.

[In fact, before the reality of my busy weekend came falling down around my ears, I had planned on writing on exactly that topic, and took a number of pictures for the purpose. Since they may not be terribly timely/seasonal by the time I get around that writing, I’ve scattered some throughout this post. They’re nice pictures, even if not terribly germane!]

Red berries on a bare bush filled with windblown leaves

But what I think I often lose sight of — and what Jarod was getting at, whether he fully realized it or not — is that my body itself is also worthy of respect and care. I’m very good at believing in care for the earth, our only home in the universe, but somehow I had never consciously connected that concept to my body, which is my only home in this universe. My body is a tool, certainly: it’s the vehicle by which I enact my contributions to the earth and society. But it is also, by my own admonition, a part of that sacred world. That doesn’t mean I can’t push myself, or that I have to accept my limitations meekly as some sort of holy burden. To the contrary, it means to me that I have a responsibility to gain a greater understanding of how my body works, and how best to treat it so that I can participate fully in the vast, chaotic welter of life in the cosmos. Wish me luck (and high-protein snackfoods).


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