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When the Earth Stops Spinning

There are days when the earth stops spinning. It happened today.
The scene was rather ironic: I walked out of German class where I had spent the last half hour laboring over a German passage about the Galilean controversy. Having finally conquered those simple sentences about the earth’s rotation, I picked up my cell to dial a friend whose call I had missed during class. Her words stopped my world on its orbit.
She gave news about a potentially serious health condition facing an old friend of mine. He and I have lost touch over the years, moved in different directions I guess, but he remains one of the most significant influences of my life. His happiness and well-being mean to the world to me.
Despite the fact that I have increasingly faced the reality of suffering and hardship in my community in recent years, this news halted the momentum of my day. As the bewildered question, “how is this happening?” lingered in me all afternoon, I yearned for the world I had woken up in this morning. A world where I took the health of my friend for granted. A world where we were so safe I didn’t have to think about the state of our bodies.
We don’t notice the spin of the earth because we are accustomed to it. If the world suddenly stopped we would realize that we’d been spinning, unthinkingly, this whole time. Our bodies would feel it. I think we often take our way of life for granted until something suddenly interrupts its momentum. It happened today.

Corpus Christi

Today is the celebration of Corpus Christi, that is, the “Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.” As a church we reflect on Christ’s embodiment, both historically in the person of Jesus and continually in the gift of Christ’s mysterious presence in the sacrament of the Eucharist.

I kept thinking about this as I lay on the cement floor in St. Mark’s Cathedral this evening during Compline. I was between Stephanie and Jen, two of my best friends since childhood. Throughout our friendships they have been constant pillars in my spiritual life. Each of us comes from her own unique Christian upbringing, and even as we all spent our undergraduate years with the Jesuits, we still hold many differences in faith. Yet they have always been embodiments of Christ to me. Real Love in Flesh and Blood. Truth speakers in some of the most trying of circumstances.
According to Roman Catholic doctrine, one of the major reasons women cannot be ordained priests is the fact that Christ became human in the form of a man. The priest, who represents Jesus in the consecration of the Eucharist, must therefore be male in order to adequately reflect Christ’s embodiment. I’ve acquired plenty of strong theological arguments to dismiss the institution’s logic on this matter, but tonight I didn’t need any intellectual assertions to support by belief that Christ’s embodiment was not merely male. No. There next to me, on my right and on my left, Jesus lay in Flesh and Blood. Skin and Bones. Jen and Steph.
The Corpus Christi I witness every day is often female, just as it is often male. It is always a Mystery.

The Good Body

A few weeks ago, I spent my Friday night reading The Good Body, a series of monologues written by Eve Ensler. The format and feel of the book is similar to the work that made Ensler (in)famous, The Vagina Monologues. I finished it the night I started it because it is short, fast, and fun, so you really have no excuse not to read it yourself. ☺

The storyline follows Ensler, the narrator, all over the world as she performs The Vagina Monologues and works on other feminist projects and presentations. All the while she struggles to love her stomach—that one part of her body that she just despises. Interwoven into Ensler’s struggle to love herself, monologues about bodies—parts of them, all of them, different types of them—are spoken by various women she encounters around the world. Some love their bodies; others hate them. All of the women are fabulous, diverse characters like the ones you find in The Vagina Monologues.

Naturally, The Good Body doesn’t match the exhilarating, taboo character of The Vagina Monologues. That’s because we are talking stomachs and butts and wrinkles and rolls, not vaginas. (Okay, there is a little talk of vaginas in this book too). It does, however, accomplish the same difficult task of making an important feminist issue—our battle with unattainable body and beauty standards—relatable, understandable, creative and entertaining.

With all this talk about the body, I got to thinking about Jesus. As Christians, we glorify the body; the incarnation is everything to us! Yet so many of us, myself included, struggle to love our own bodies—our own incarnate selves.

So, spend some time loving the body you’ve been given and read The Good Body by Eve Ensler. Your hips will love you for it.