This body. This buffoon of a machine that, for all its design, doesn’t always seem to work very well. You want to climb a hill but you have flat feet and you know your knees will hurt. You want to visit that relative but you’re asthmatic, and they have two dogs. Your skin flares up from being in contact with everything from grass to seawater to jeans. We are intelligently designed, poorly produced.
This body. Contains a thousand springs and dies if one be gone. Athletes know it full well. Push yourself too hard for a season and it takes years of rehab to recover. Even then, you won’t exactly be brand new. An internationally renowned speaker who has a stroke and in an instant, all he could do was struggle to whisper. We break far too easily. And once broken, there is no turning back time. In our day, we don’t realize how strange it is that a harp of a thousand strings should keep in tune so long*. We are walking, living, talking miracles.
This body. Your vessel on this perilous journey across time and space. By your every breath and the channels of your senses it connects you to the world you find yourself in. The world and you – you are made of the same matter. Yet why does it sometimes feel like you’ve been secretly slipped into existence?
These bodies, possessed by light. We long, like Milton’s angels with bodies of light, to slip into and through each other and shine brighter. We don’t just want to be with. We want to enter in and be that person we behold. Lewis describes it as a longing for “total interpenetration instead of mere embraces”, a physical union with another that would make us whole. Yet it is our very physical bodies that block it from happening. We are such contradictory creatures. These bodies, possessed by light. Tell me we’ll never get used to it.** I’ll never get used to it.
“…we are composite creatures, rational animals, akin on on side to the angels, on the other to tom-cats. It is a bad thing not to be able to take a joke. Worse, not to take a divine joke; made, at our expense, but also (who doubts it?) for our endless benefit” ~The Four Loves, C.S Lewis
*Creation, William Billings
**Scheherazade, Richard Siken