Kirkepiscatoid

Random and not so random musings from a 5th generation NE Missourian who became a 1st generation Episcopalian. Let the good times roll!


(Annotated anatomical drawing by Paolo Mascagni & François Carlo Antommarchi, 1826)

On the night he was handed over to suffering and death, our
Lord Jesus Christ took bread; and when he had given thanks
to you, he broke it, and gave it to his disciples, and said, "Take,
eat: This is my Body, which is given for you. Do this for the
remembrance of me."
--Eucharistic Prayer A, Book of Common Prayer, p. 362

Philippians 3:21:

He will transform the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself.

The last few days, I've been waking up with the infamous "crick in my neck." I'm not sure when that started happening on a semi-regular basis. I'm guessing it's about the time I first noticed I could no longer turn around and look backward with my neck only, out the back window of my truck, and had to turn my torso around, and sometimes even unhook myself from my seat belt to turn around enough to look backward safely.

It's no secret where this is coming from. Over two decades of looking down a microscope have slowly started to settle into a litany of chronic minor neck, shoulder, and back issues--the #1 chronic occupational injury of pathologists. Oh, it doesn't stop me from anything. I still look the high school aged sacker at Hy-Vee in the eye as I hoist my 40 lb. sack of dog food and say, "Naw, I'll carry it out myself." I still am a whiz at heavy objects for my size. I feel as cognitively strong or stronger than I ever did, even though I know I am not thinking as fast or am not as easily highly focused as I used to be. I still have the stamina to do everything I want to do--but now it takes me longer to recharge, and might require a nap or two that didn't used to be necessary.

In short, I know that muscle by muscle, neuron by neuron, and organ by organ, my body is slowly betraying me--yet I feel I am as much of "me" as I ever was. I feel blessed that I have unusually good health--yet I know for the first time in middle age, that as far as our physical existence goes, entropy rules. None of us escape the betrayal of our physical selves although some of use will know the name of the thing that does us in, and others of us will simply fall apart slowly until one day we just grind to a non-specific halt. We will all either rust out or burn out, and we are not given the date and time that will happen. Every day, our physical selves become more and more transformed to the body of our humiliation.

But if I were to tell you who I believe in almost as much as God, I would tell you it's Sir Isaac Newton...and the Gospel according to Sir Isaac says, "For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction." Now, Newton was talking about physical motion, but consider the possibility of spiritual motion. I like to think that on those days when we feel our physical morbidity and mortality with one side of our brain, but are mentally ok with who we are, we are actually living in the balance point of feeling that equal and opposite action-reaction interplay between the physical and the spiritual. So much has been read and said about "living in the now." I like to think that living in the now simply means to live in the place where there is zero net force between our physical and spiritual selves. When we live in the place more on the physical end, things like our ego, our pride, our fear, get in the way. When we live in the place more on the spiritual end, we become navel-contemplating mystics, living in a world totally inside our own head, with no desire to share it. Yet to understand why our goal should be in that place of "zero net force," we have to live some of our days in the not-quite centered spaces on either side of it.

I know people might think I'm a little nuts when I admit that physics helps me understand what "living Eucharistically" is all about. But often, on Sunday, when I hear one of the many versions of our Eucharistic prayer, I hear that call to empty ourselves. To pour our bodies into an oven-fired food product, and to exsanguinate into a chalice.

I think about how those of us in the more liturgical Christian denominations are both attracted to the earthiness of bread and the bright shininess of a silver-plated, gold-lined chalice. We simultaneously desire to be one with the Earth, and one with the bright shiny holy hardware objects. When we eat the bread, we know that alone, we are not the same as the totality of the "given-up" earthly body of Christ, but with Him inside us, we are more than ourselves. When we drink or dip from the common cup, we know that, again, we are not the totality of the lifeblood of God, but we can be the vessel that offers it by ingesting it. We take the bread from the hands of the priest--holy earthiness shared between two human hands--and we take the wine with our own lips in the same way as we thirst for a relationship with God.

So, yeah, I wake up each morning with all those reminders of my body's slow transformation into humiliation--the crick in my neck, the stiff foot from plantar fasciitis, the creaky knee from too many years as a catcher. They are quite adamant about reminding me of that transformation. But at the same time, things like my prayer time, Sunday worship, and things like simply "kickin' back and havin' holy thoughts" remind me of my body's transformation into glory. It's a realization that our bodies are much more than our physical selves, and that they are not just "us" personally--they're ALL of us.

3 comments:

This is really wonderful. I want to say something about food for thought, but that seems wrong... Ooops, I did it.

Seriously, your mind brings for the most remarkable things, then expressed so wonderfully in your words.

This will be on my heart for a long time. And in my own creaky bones.

oh yeah.... !!!!


my wv: movooma
she said movooma as she looked over her shoulder and her hips had to follow lock-step....

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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Kirksville, Missouri, United States
I'm a longtime area resident of that quirky and wonderful place called Kirksville, MO and am wondering what God has hiding round the next corner in my life.

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