the Body is a Wonderland

May 14, 2008 at 8:55 am 1 comment

So its been a while since I had any coherent thought in my head that wasn’t directly baby-or-toddler related. Which probably means its a good thing that tomorrow is my last day of trying to pretend like I care about my work. (I love my job, I do, I just… don’t care about it so much right now, and caring is a fairly key element of what I do at work).

But many of my scattered, fleeting non-baby thoughts seem to be coalescing these days around a point.

The human body is a pretty amazing, wonderful creation.

Saturday night, I went to hear a top-notch community choir performance. The fact that one of the tenors comes home to my bed and makes babies with me is icing on the cake. (I’m not the only one who likes to hear him sing.) But throughout this amazing performance of J.S. Bach’s St. Matthew’s Passion I kept being amazed at what the human body could do:

  • the sound coming out of the soprano soloist and just hanging there in midair.
  • the force of 100+ combined voices
  • the sheer genius of having invented the violin or flute, and the skill to give them such voices
  • the creativity to have composed such a piece.

According to the conductor, the first public performance of this music was generations after it was written, directed by a man who had been given the score as a boy. To have devised a way not only to conceive that music, but to record it, so that another mind, generations later, could hear the same music “in his mind’s eye” and find a choir and orchestra to bring it into being… the imagination involved in that, for composer and conductor and choir and even listener… that sometimes seems to me to be very close to the heart of what it is to be created in the image of God. Bach may well have been an exemplary one of us, but everybody who makes something, be it a recipe, or a sock pattern, or a paper tulip, or a well-crafted sentence, is participating in this great work of creation. And I just think that’s pretty amazing.

On an only slightly related note, last night was bath night. I love watching my daughter move, as she grows and discovers new things she can do for herself. She can do things I don’t ever remember being able to do, including this awesome, natural flat-footed crouch when playing with something near her feet. If I’m on the floor my options are sit, or kneel, or sprawl. I suspect we are all* born with this sort of natural grace. The trivia-collecting portion of my brain remembers hearing some Quirks and Quarks story about how westerners lose that ability by retraining our bodies to sit on chairs. But for her, for now, her body serves her curiosity, her determination, it is how she experiences the world and how she affects the world around her. Except for the squatting thing, my body does much the same for me. I just think that’s pretty amazing.

*Reading the fatosphere has forced me to be aware of at least some of the many privileges I enjoy- control over the movement of my body being one of them. I’m also thinking about time I spent recently with a woman after a devastating stroke.  To point to any one thing in a human body and say “that is what it means to be human” will necessarily mean drawing a circle that leaves someone out.

Some minds do not imagine. Some bodies don’t move according to will.
As we approach Trinity Sunday, perhaps this, too, is what it is to be made in the image of God. When God himself has three persons to contain the wholeness of God, no one of us is enough to contain the wholeness of the image of God. God is bigger than that- big enough that every variation on the theme of ‘human being’ reflects the image of God. God is found not in the common traits of humanity, but in all our variations.  We don’t pay enough attention to the Divinity revealed in variations our culture perceives as faults or flaws. Special Delivery from the Duh truck for Mrs. Millur…

… Scuse me, I have to go reread some Jean Vanier


Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

I’m Just Saying I’m baaa-aack.

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Alison  |  May 15, 2008 at 9:34 pm

    I just want to say how much I enjoy your blog when I check into it. I spend so much time in the – for want of a better term – liberal blogosphere, where often religion is undervalued, or even consciously devalued. It’s wonderful to read a thoughtful, religious approach to those same issues, especially in such beautiful prose. Thank you for making your thoughts available to us!

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