“How is the body?” my (gifted!) meditation teacher asked of us on our Zoom call this morning, as a prompt for our circle council. How is the body? Her use of an article and not of a possessive opened up for me—especially in that state of alertness, clarity, and inspiration that follows meditation—a flood of grateful considerations:
My body. A feminist professor in college began a seminar by declaring: “We both HAVE and ARE bodies,” and her words have stayed with me since, informing and shaping my life’s journey with a body, in a body. My body today: One week out from the second and final dose of the Moderna vaccine; since the shot, multiple days of experience with the full range of intense side effects, from soreness and rash to fever and body (head!) aches to exhaustion to GI distress; on its persistent path to greater immunity and protection, stronger every day. My individual body, especially in this time of pandemic: part of the body politic, with civic duties.
His body. He was a young man when we married; 31 years later, he’s a middle-aged man. Then, the hair on his head was uniformly dark, stubbornly straight, showing every snip of the scissors and the clippers I’ve used to cut it for decades; then, he couldn’t grow a beard, except for patches at the end of his chin and the height of his cheeks. Now, his hair bends and waves as it’s shot through with gray, blending to mostly white on his sideburns and his full and even three-day beard. All these years, we’ve cared for each other’s bodies and ourselves within, we’ve shared our bodies; together, our two bodies made more—the astonishing, healthy bodies of our three sons—from microscopic starts to Millennial manhood now.
Her body. It’s aging with momentum, declining from disease. Her body formed my body and those of my five younger siblings; her hands and labor fed our bodies’ growth. Her face, her movement in space, her voice and its words were the center of my world, its axis of revolution, until I left home for college. Now, her brain within her body: some days clear and sparkling; other days frustrated and defeated by gaps and confusions, by the tangles of time. Only 21 years older than my body, her body stands in the road ahead as a sober sign, warning of possible hazards for me, for my brain, for my body.
How is the body? In all its shapes and sizes, colors and conditions, ways it’s wired and ways it comes undone: It’s a wonder. We’re a wonder.