This is my body…

August 10, 2008 at 12:19 am 8 comments

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the complex matrix of signs and symbols that comprise the experience of “being in church”. Partly because I don’t actually worship anymore. “being in church” is the best I can manage. Worship goes on all around me, while I pay attention to Ruth and Grace. This has certainly expanded my understanding of the phrase “pray for me”. I don’t ask the congregation to pray about me, but I’m counting on them to pray on my behalf, while I sit there among them, sharing the same time and space- but a very different experience.

So, anyway- my thinking about all of this is coloured by an article I read for my Language, Culture, and Society course, about the different ways meaning can be communicated.

So it changed the meaning of things when I was sitting in the midst of the service, and nursing, while hearing the words: “This is my body, given for you”.

In Grace’s 12lb body, there is a sum total of 1 sperm cell and 3mL of infant advil that has not come from my body to sustain hers. That she might have life, and have it abundantly. And if that isn’t an icon, a resemblance, clearly a way in which I was, in that moment, very much created in the image of God, then I don’t what was. And it makes me wonder how far the resemblance goes.

Does God ache to give us good gifts, the way I do when she has an extra-long sleep?
Does God’s heart thrill at our joy, the way mine does at her contented smile?
When we fuss and cry and wail at God, does God know that if we would just calm down enough to take the good things we’re being offered, we’d be happier, and healthier?

The image of a mother with a child is a fairly common one in many churches, it has become such a convention that it can only be seen in one way.

We know, by convention, who these people are. And we know who, in this picture, is the image of God. And it isn’t the mom. I think I’m a bit angry about that. We have so much scripture and tradition that indexes God as a loving, caring, nurturing parent- but a Father, always a Father, only a Father.

I am not her father. I am her mother- and the image of God. And this is my body, given for her.

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Getting it Back… sort of. I Am

8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. wellroundedtype2  |  August 10, 2008 at 2:21 am

    This is such a powerful post.
    I can’t see the image, but I think that the personification of God is a human thing, the issue of who gets to define God in doctrine, art, symbols is a power thing.

    I rarely find myself in prayer, but I do feel closer to God when I’m extra patient, extra loving, soothing, nutrturing.

    Reading your post reminds me that there are times I miss nursing, and I’m so grateful I had the opportunity to nurse my little one for as long as I did. I don’t know if I’ll have another opportunity, but the kind of giving that comes through carrying a child and nourishing that child from ones own body — I experienced that as a wonderous thing.

  • 2. Me  |  August 10, 2008 at 2:57 am

    Wow..that was very beautiful and deep.
    Very well written and thought provoking, I’ll think of this post next time I get stressed which happens all too often.

    Also,too bad a painting like that would have the baby looking more like a stick in fear of it being too “obese” or something.

    *rolls eyes*

  • 3. April D  |  August 10, 2008 at 3:06 am

    Beautifully worded post!

  • 4. Limor  |  August 10, 2008 at 3:58 am

    That was so beautiful. I’m Jewish, but I still appreciate your sentiment, and totally agree.

  • 5. Summer  |  August 10, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    Just beautiful. Thank you.

  • 6. Tal  |  August 11, 2008 at 1:46 pm

    Thank you for this post. It is most poetic.

    I yearn for what you have, both as a mother and as a spiritual person. As a person dealing with infertility, I have yet to become a mother in the most full meaning of the word; and, as a result of my struggle, I have lost my spiritual connection to … well, anything.

    Your posts remind me and give me hope that, someday, somehow, I will find family, and my faith again. Thank you.

  • 7. Alexandra Lynch  |  August 12, 2008 at 6:35 am

    This is very beautiful and profound. Thank you for writing it.

    I think ultimately at the root of the reason I restlessly sought until I fhought my way out of Christianity into paganism came down to having a Goddess, because I am female and was pregnant when I converted. I took the ingredients of life and I grew it in me, and nurtured it, and continue to do so, and to me the way in which I was doing this is a gendered thing and shaped by my being female, and I needed my deity to be like that.

    Needless to say, everyone’s mileage in this is likely to vary widely.

  • 8. Rhonwyyn  |  November 2, 2008 at 11:47 pm

    Tal, Nancy Leigh DeMoss has spoken about your feelings. She is a single woman who has expressed some of the same feelings you have. Nancy said there are multiple ways to be a mother, all of them as intense and important as the others. You should really look into developing the spiritual mothering instincts you expressed – check out Titus 2 for the basics and go from there. Incidentally, Nancy recently did a series on that passage. (www.reviveourhearts.com)

    But if your longings to give birth in your physical body are too strong, look to Hannah as your guide (I Samuel 1) and cry out to God. But keep in mind that God is interested in our character, not our comfort, and what you desire is not His desire for you.

    AID: Thanks for sharing your story. It’s given me a new perspective on being a mother. It’s also a good reminder of how much who we are is totally and completely from God and how much I withhold the praise, glory, and worship that are totally and completely His.

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