Yesterday I read that Christ is in the breaking of bread.

That's how the disciples on the road to Emmaus knew Him.

As if they hadn't known by His teaching and His kindness or maybe, I don't know, by the nail marks in His hands?

But they didn't.

And I can't really blame them.

How many blindingly obvious times has Christ shown up in my life and I have not seen Him?

I tell him all the time that I WANT to see Him.

And then, when He comes --

I am asleep. Like Peter and James and John on the eve of the Crucifixion. Sleeping in the garden, with fragrant grass pillowed beneath their weary heads.

The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

And gosh, how many times have I done the same?

I don't get a lot of sleep -- I like to be awake and do things -- so many times, when there is good, creative work to be done, work that will nourish me and show the love of God to me -- well, I am sleeping.

I have sensed the haze under my eyelids drifting into my brain.

The spirit is willing.

The flesh is weak. And so are my eyelids, and quite frankly, my willpower.

But anyway. I digress.

The disciples on the road to Emmaus didn't know Jesus until He had prayed with them and then broken bread with them.

And then, suddenly, their eyes were opened --

And as quickly as they knew it was Him, He had vanished.

*****

Easter has all the harbingers of Magic. With a capital M.

It's magic come to life.

Life. With a capital L.

To start with, someone rose from the DEAD, y'all.

I don't think that fact has ever hit me hard enough. Ever ever ever no never.

I've heard the story my whole life, so it seems very duh to me. Of course He rose from the dead. What else would He have done?

What else would He have done.

What a thing to say.

On the road to Emmaus, Jesus explained to the disciples He had met (one was named Cleopas, and I love that incidental fact; thank you, Doctor Luke) that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer what He had suffered.

And in the same way, it was necessary for the Resurrection to occur.

I think that because I live in a world of the Resurrection, a world where it DID happen, I can't imagine a world where it doesn't.

It's like white privilege for Christians.

More Easter magic: Jesus appears in rooms with locked doors.

He basically apparates into rooms where all the doors are locked.

You see, His people are hiding.

One of my favorite things about the Easter story is that it was the women that found the empty tomb first. And then they went and told the men, who were hiding.

I know I'm not the only one who loves this part of the story.

But here's the deal: Jesus' body, His PHYSICAL body, magically regenerated from death and brutality and scarring and being a bloody pulp of skin and hair and muscle and sinew -- all of this -- His Physical Body was alive and walking around and perfect.

Except.

For those nail marks.

And the mark in his side.

In the perfect, olive-toned flesh, there was a huge gash.

Thomas could put his hand INTO the marks. Open wounds.

Bleeding for all eternity.

But this physical body, the one that could walk through walls and locked doors and disappear and reappear at will, as He had always been able to do -- I wonder if being able to do it again was like riding a bike, like regaining an ability He'd always had but had had to do without for thirty-three years, like flexing an old muscle you haven't trained in a while --

This Physical Body, full of magic and seeming sorcery --

He ate.

He broke bread with the disciples and ate it.

He ate fish with them.

And that's how they knew He wasn't a ghost.

(I just realized:

Jesus broke bread. He ate fish.

Loaves and fishes. All over again.

The Bible is so funny, y'all.)

One of my favorite moments in the Bible is that scene, when Jesus ate the fish that He had cooked with His best friends on the beach.

It's so physical. So... so normal.

I can almost taste the fish on my tongue as I type this. I love fish. Its gentle flavor, the flakiness. The way it tastes when it's cooked just right -- perfectly moist, not too dry.

And Jesus tasted that.

I always picture the morning on the beach as clear and quiet, and there is Jesus, cooking and eating fresh-caught fish with His disciples. It's a perfect scene to me. I think if I could visit any scene in the Bible, this would be it. Quiet and normal and -- I wish I could hear their conversations. Quiet and peaceful and full of physicality and normalcy.

Jesus was a resurrected body who could disappear and reappear at His whim.

But He was like us.

He had physical needs.

He heeded the call of His broken-and-healed body for food.

He got tired and slept. He would go away to pray. He was -- He was like us.

The pastor at my church always says, "Jesus knows what it's like to be you."

He had a body.

Heck yeah He knows what it's like to be me.

When I am fatigued, which I often am -- He is in it.

He knows the weariness of my eyelids, of my limbs. Knows how much I don't want to work out some days.

He knows how much I love to be awake and do things, and that's why I don't sleep.

I wonder if He was ever tempted to despise His own body, His own skin, the way so many women do. Women in particular.

He got hungry. He ate. He ate fish, in fact.

He had days where He felt like He couldn't quite settle into His skin. I'm sure He felt that even more than I do.

Because sometimes I feel disassociated from this body I'm walking around in.

Yeah, the arms and legs are mine, but I can hardly believe it.

Will I ever come to a day where I believe this body belongs to me? Where I fully inhabit it?

Where I see it as my home?

My childhood home, the actual, physical red brick house my family has lived in for seventeen years, the house I know every inch of, every turn in the dark, every awkward corner -- I don't care if it's messy. It's mine, it's my home, and I don't care what it looks like as long as I am there.

I cannot say the same about my body, because if you think I'm not often thinking about what I look like, you're kidding yourself.

But Jesus -- He was God.

He was God in the body of one of His created beings.

I wonder what that was like.

Was it like trying on a suit that was too small?

Was it like pouring too much wine into a too-small bottle?

Was it like when my teapot overflows because I've put too much water in it, so that it pours out the lid at the same time as the spout?

The Incarnation is a mystery.

It's magical.

But Jesus had a body.

And He had one still when He came back to us from death.

*****

Christ is in the breaking of bread.

He is in it when we share meals together.

When we recognize the needs of our bodies.

Our own frailty.

He is in that.

He is in it when we are together, sharing a meal.

Truth talk, y'all: I don't eat with people a lot.

I know someone that often seems like she's watching me eat. Like, WATCHING me. It's creepy -- but that's not the reason I don't eat with people.

I have a specific way I like to eat, very cleanly, and I get self-conscious about it.

So I don't share my meals. Or, rather, I don't like to eat around other people.

But last night, when I read that Christ was in the breaking of bread --

Well, then.

Why am I reluctant to share this way that I eat?

It's only good for me. But I have been teased for it in the past -- so I hide.

I am so used to hiding.

Meals are a chance for me to be vulnerable.

To say, hey, this is part of what I'm about.

But I don't want to explain it.

So I hide.

It is a way of respecting my body, of treating it well -- but also, honestly, of getting it to do what I want.

As much as I have come to love my body recently, that's only because it's cooperating with what I want for it.

I don't know if I would say I was at home in it, and I don't know if I would say that we are friends.

I would say that we are really good business partners.

My body loves me.

She is afraid of me, but she loves me, and she wants to open herself to me.

I, on the other hand, love my body with conditions.

I will only love you if you look like XYZ.

Right now, I love her.

She is so hurt.

She is wounded.

Because that's not love at all.

*****

I cannot talk about the breaking of bread without thinking of the Eucharist.

Because, really, that's the whole metaphor.

I don't even eat bread, guys, and this metaphor is the most powerful thing in the world to me.

Bread and wine.

For Christ has come to us, and He has been broken, brutalized, crushed -- chewed up by us.

And His blood has been spilled. Poured. Think of what it means when we say, in any other context, that blood poured from a wound. That it gushed out. I cannot fathom the utter bloodiness of the Crucifixion -- the kind of bloodbath it must have been.

And every time we eat the bread and take the cup we become cannibals.

We recognize what we have done.

Christ is bread. He is in the breaking of bread. He gave us this ritual for us to remember, to mark us.

To mark us.

To tattoo on our foreheads in gold and silver ink: this is to Whom we belong.

The act of taking the Eucharist together -- well, it changes it.

Changes us.

It is not enough to break the bread alone. It must be together.

*****

I keep coming back to the physicality of my faith.

It is not only a cerebral thing.

My body is -- well, I have viewed Christianity as being mostly in my mind.

But last night I read a short essay from Bread and Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter on experiencing Jesus.

He is not only a mental encounter. Not only a spiritual thing.

He came in a body like ours.

He hungered.

In fact, our Enemy tempted Him with what else? Bread.

He thirsted. He said so on the cross.

I'm dehydrated these days and it's because I"m human and I have a body.

I grew up believing that the body was the enemy.

Aber nein.

The flesh is weak, I'm told. We are told to deny our flesh.

That doesn't mean the body.

It means the desires of this earth, that come WITH the body. That come with being a human person, walking around on this earth.

I am not merely a mind. Not merely a spirit.

As much as I am aware of my body, I forget her so often.

I forget she is part of this, too.

At the last days, I am not robbed of my body. She is restored. She is made new.

She, not it.

(I have to talk about her in personhood. It makes her realer.)

Maybe it's the tradition I grew up in, I don't know.

But I do know this: Christianity is a faith of physicality, of gut, of grit.

It's not about leaving the body behind. No, when we are redeemed, we are redeemed fully, skin and all.

It is my body that has to undergo the hardships of adventure as well as my soul. It is my body that has to experience pain. Weariness. My feet ache. My legs burn. My throat is parched and dry as sand, and I can feel the sweat dripping off my brow, and my hair is disgusting, by the way.

This is a faith of our bodies. Of touch (and go).

Of contact. Of softness and hardness and coldness and all five senses. Not just quintessence.

And we cannot deny this part of ourselves.

8944C53B-BD78-4EC6-AF8F-F04F793A75B7.JPG

I am coming to see my body as my friend.

Not only that -- I am coming to see her as part of me.

She is the part of me that goes on this journey with me, you know.

And this isn't a post about self-love or loving one's body or loving the skin you're in or whatever.

It's about the fact that my body is my body, and Jesus believed it was important.

He met people's physical needs all the time.

Physicality matters to Him.

And we cannot ignore our bodies.

We weren't meant to.

*****

And when we write about or talk about the body, we cannot forget about the Church.

The Body, capital B.

We are one with them. I am a hand or an eye, or, really, sometimes I think I'm one of the nerves in the brain, because MY OWN brain is buzzing all the damn time.

I can't make it shut up, which is part of the reason I have such trouble acknowledging my physicality -- because my mentality is so freaking active.

At any rate.

I cannot ignore the Body, just as much as I cannot ignore my own body.

So often I exist in solitude.

{At this point I am just letting my hands write what they will, letting my subconscious control them.

I don't have to be so disciplined all the time.

I can let it go.}

I make jokes that I am a hermit.

There are some people I see. My friend Paige, my GC. My coworkers. A few others.

But for the most part, I feel as though exist in a vacuum, without being with other believers. Without experiencing them.

We are meant to experience Jesus in all His manifestations, and that includes physically, and I do not interact with our Body.

I am missing them.

I am looking, craving to live my life with them.

I can feel it in my bones. In my gut, where I hunger.

Yes, it is a hunger. 

I am looking for them in all my places.

I have ignored the Body because it feels like work, like effort, like going against the grain to be part of them.

But they are part of my Adventure.

They are part of it.

They are my traveling companions.

They are supportive of me and kinder than I could ever believe, and they have words to me when I cannot believe.

I was going say more things on the end of that last sentence, but "when I cannot believe" is about right.

I don't believe grace, most of the time.

But oh my stars, you guys. Y'all, which is my word.

So much of me exists in cerebrality, and I don't even know if that's a word, but I'm going to make it one.

I am learning to listen to my body, and my body cries out for this One. 

For this Body.

It craves it like hunger, like honey cakes when I am hungry.

Something about honey cakes has always appealed to me since I read about them in a Millie Keith book when I was in early middle school. I don't know why.

But wait -- I do know why.

I am paying attention to the way God shows up in our five senses.

In taste. In touch. In the way the wind feels on my skin.

In the way the Eucharist tastes on my tongue every Sunday.

In the touch of fingers on my waist.

Sight is obvious to me. Sunrises, man.

And sound? I'm a classically-trained musician. I can hear God in chords all around me.

But something about taste and touch --

They are waking me up.

They aliven my senses.

"Aliven" is not a word but I don't care that much.

And smell.

Smell is all around me.

My favorite candle is nothing if not a reminder of the kindness of God. And the way He loves me.

Okay.

I am craving the Body.

And I am craving the companionship of my own body, lowercase b.

I do not know how to wrap this up.

This has been my expose on everything that involves the metaphor of bread, to me.

But all I know is this:

The physical matters.

Our bodies matter.

Our skin, our eyes, our hunger, our cravings, our desires that are rooted in our skin -- they all matter.

The body comes on the Adventure with us.

It is not just our companion -- it is us.

It is a part of us.

It gets resurrection, too.

And I am learning this slowly, but surely.

She is weary, and so am I, and she gives me signals.

My mind and my body are often on the same wavelength, but there is a part of me that pretends it's not so.

My mind knows what my body knows, but the mind is also overeager.

My mind knows what my body knows.

And my body's signals are loud, but they drowned out by a noise of perfectionism and drive and not myself-ness.

Yes, I think if we can just get back to what the body needs, we will find ourselves there.

And we will find God in the middle of our skin.

Comment