Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Body

I feel slightly guilty about abandoning Thomas Merton. I have yet to finish Sign of Jonas, though I am halfway through.

It's not his fault. I could laze about in his paragraphs for hours on end. It's just that I've had to put him aside in favor of a recently acquired part-time job and -- of course, ever-present -- my Anatomy & Physiology text.

I love the body. It's gruesome and magical, frightening and miraculous. I'm probably the most exhausted I've been in a while, having issues with sleeping and anxiety, and the feeling of always having something pressing to do. But I don't find myself so tired that I can't work up excitement over what makes us...us.

The kids have all these questions. They hear things in school about God making us, our bodies and minds, as if from waving a magic wand, and they look to me for confirmation. Which I give, in some vague way that leaves me unsettled and dissatisfied. Not Adam and Eve, and all that, as comfortingly simple as it all sounds. I stumble and stammer, mostly because I don't even begin to know what I believe, much less be able to explain it in some coherent way.

My text is like a bible of the body, and it's impossible not to see the intricate soulfulness of our creation, however it all came to be.

From the continued contraction of the striated muscle of the heart, to the ability of cells to effectively rid our bodies of toxins, to the nerve impulses that all work together to maintain homeostasis. To maintain. To be effective. For our bodies to work.

It's not that I don't see the hand of God in it all. I do. I just don't feel comfortable trying to elucidate on how. I wish I could tell my girls that with some kind of eloquence, especially when they look at me with their big eyes, wanting to be right. Yes, God made us. End of story. Sort of. Because that story is long and varied with twists and turns.

I've brought up the general concept of evolution with them, how we can trace our ancestors back, but that's about it. I think they'd find the fact of Australopithecus Afarensis a bit suspect. I'll leave that to their future science teachers.

I wonder what Merton would think of it all. He writes little about the human body, except for his relatively poor health and the way illness spread through the monastery like a fire through parched woods. I wonder what he thought of creation and evolution, or where he found the intersection of science and faith, if at all.

I do know he'd believe, no matter our source, that we weren't made for ourselves alone.

7 comments:

Fran said...

Oh Kelly, nice to see this post.

The body. What is more body-oriented (and averse as well) than the Holy Roman Church itself?

There is no need to worry about creation v. evolution in here, for that we can be thankful. There have been science flaps but in the end, truth triumphed. It always does. Science and God need not be incompatible - in fact they can't be incompatible.

But the body. The Body. That is who we are and what church is. It is amazing to me. I'm rather squeamish and put off by the body part but I love the Body part. Maybe we can help each other along.

It is me Fran, at work which I must get back to.

Fran said...

BTW, speaking of such science-y and God things, did you see my FB email to you about Michelle?

Kelly said...

I did, Fran. I chatted with Michelle a bit, too. So neat to be told she's right in my backyard, practically!

de said...

Not like you need more reading, or anything, but I've been working my way through this:

http://www.ewtn.com/library/papaldoc/jp2tbind.htm

painted maypole said...

I've always thought that the intricacies of how the body work point to the necessity of God, because how could all this be accident. And the ways in which the body fails are the same as how the world fails... through sin, our trying to change and control, the decay of a broken world.

claire said...

Interesting, Kelly. I have had a love-hate relationship with my body all my life. Leaning more heavily on hate than love, I am afraid.

And though, and though, Godde chose to take on a body to be among us...

The day I make peace with my body I will be a 'different' person.

Thank you for dealing with a topic I shirk.

de said...

Also - I heard (part of) a fascinating radio interview with a parasitologist. He was discussing all the mysterious and miraculous ways that parasites affect their hosts' behavior in order to advance the life cycle. So cool! and creepy! I'm sure you'd like it.