It’s also helpful to realize that this very body that we have, that’s sitting right here, right now with its aches and its pleasure, is exactly what we need to be fully human, fully awake, and fully alive. — Pema Chodron
I finally stopped snacking after supper and at night when I can’t sleep. I’ve been trying (and not trying) to kick this habit for a long time. Now, it’s happened. I didn’t get a download of willpower or receive a miraculous healing. I had a bad bout of acid reflux. It was so painful it woke me up–literally. Reading up on it later, I discovered that lying down after you eat makes it worse.
It’s not like I suddenly got this condition. I knew I had it but somehow got used to the gnawing feeling in my oesophagus, which increases when I’m stressed–like I am now as I write about this.
Let me stop here and tell you about the feelings going crazy in my body right now. Shame is at the base of my neck poking me. A wee bit of panic is in the pit of my stomach as I imagine some of you reading this and being turned off. “Acid reflux? Do we really need to read about that? What’s next? Hemorrhoids?” A wisp of despair is expanding in my chest. Am I getting to that stage where aches, pains and medical appointments take centre stage?
The urge to hide is strong. Wouldn’t it be easier to write about something else, anything else? After all, it’s personal and more than one of you may be tempted to give me advice, which is the last thing I want.
So, why am I telling you this? Because that is how God is working in the life of this everyday pilgrim. Lately, God has been speaking to me through creation–lakes, trees, my Christmas cactus and now, my body. Creation isn’t just the earth, trees and animals. It’s people too. And not just our souls but our skin, limbs, and organs. God is in my body giving me exactly what I need to be fully alive.
This morning as I was brushing my teeth, I remembered Jesus’ saying, “I will be with you always.” Typically and contextually, we interpret that to mean Jesus will be present with us. But this morning I heard it in a more collaborative sense: “I’m with you in this.”
God desires my wholeness and is using my suffering (pain in my gastrointestinal tract) to end my suffering (the fatigue and discomfort from overeating), and it’s working. . . so far, anyway.
This post may incite some strong emotions. My story may not be yours. It doesn’t have to be, but what it evokes in you… now that’s all yours. Don’t waste it. Listen to those precious feelings expressed in your body. Listen to what they’re saying to you. Listen with God, who is with us in this, awakening us to a full life.
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. –1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NIV)
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This week, I’d like to honour the love-mischief of those with long-term illnesses. My friends who have Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s, Lupus, Crohn’s, Fibromyalgia, and Celiac disease take great care to listen to their bodies. They often have to curb their enthusiasm, pace themselves, and rest when they’d much rather be active. A full life looks different for them than for others, and they, like pioneers, are patiently discovering it.