Monday, November 09, 2009

Childbirth and the Eucharist. Remembering.

This is my piece from last night's ikon gathering which was entitled 'No Bodies and Our Souls'.


How much of what we experience of our bodies comes from the memory of the experience as attached to the particular words and selves we have learned? Perhaps that is impossible to answer; like trying to describe a moment which is beyond words to the point where the most vivid memory of it only brings a feeling to mind. So the description I am about to attempt is beyond inadequate and yet, again and again, I am compelled to try to describe it.

I sometimes imagine that the compulsion is down to my angry mind needing to own tha event which was so far out of its control that I could not even hear it at the time. How frustrating for my mind, which had convinced me so well for so long of its power and authority so suddenly have me in thrall to another. I could only hear my body. And it was screaming.

I have heard people talk of giving birth as an 'out of body experience' or a spiritual experience. Something takes over and performs a bloody and painful miracle. It felt as if it was not me but someone or something beyond me; intervening. Life happens, all of a sudden. There is yelling and then crying and laughter.

But it was not a spiritual experience. It was the opposite. A total body experience. A completely human experience. Just one that was so unusual that my mind had been shocked into silence for the first time ever. I realised then that it was not God who was beyond me, it was myself. I am beyond me. More than I realise. And, because someone I will die, more than I will ever realise. Perhaps it is possible to lose God and gain God in the same word-becoming-flesh moment. You can lost control of your body like that, but then, who is your body if it is not you? You are then in control but also not in control. Beyond words, who are you?

Consider that the younger a person is, the more spiritual we deem them, the more connected to God. They who have no words, who are not aware of the boundaries between others and themselves, their bodies and the universe. Our minds will not let us remember this. But perhaps our bodies have no forgotten.

When we break together we do it in remembrance of the spirit-made-man and our minds say, get up, take the bread, say Amen. But, as you swallow, feel how little control you have. Your body may accept the bread, may digest it, may glean the goodness from it, may expell the rest. This is beyond words. This is the sacrament of word made flesh. Feel where your words end and your flesh begins. Your helpnessness, like a baby. Your power, your connection to the universe. This is your body. Do this in remembrance.

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