Lent is traditionally the time in the Christian calendar where believers give up something as a way of deepening their relationship with God. It’s a time for the spiritual practice of fasting to increase our awareness of God’s presence, Christ’s sacrifice and our state as sinners. It is no wonder that we can get so focused on cultivating the spirit within us that we unconsciously neglect our bodies.
The body is the vessel that houses our soul. We can get so hung up on spiritual things that we forget that Jesus was the embodiment of the Divine. He came in flesh; in a human body. It was in his flesh that he lived, moved and had his being. He walked, talked, touched and healed in this body. It was his body that hung on the cross.
One of the body negating concepts the church has adopted and passed on through generations is Platonized Christianity. It’s the idea that the spirit is greater than the body. Thus our focus is the spirit while our body/flesh is minimized or even disregarded. (See Kelly Brown Douglas’ essay that discusses the concept in detail.)
My challenge this Lenten season for myself and to you is to practice esteeming the body as equal as the spirit.
In light of all the ways black bodies are under attack perhaps we could stand to dedicate time to recognizing, reflecting and renewing the ways God is embodied and experienced in our bodies and the bodies of those we are in community with.
For the next 40 days find 8 things per each of the 5 senses to experience God and your body anew this Lent season.
Stay tuned for more on this Embodied Lent.