by Chris Koellhoffer, IHM December 19, 2021
One of my spiritual practices every November includes setting a bit of time aside to reflect on what I want to do, how I hope and desire to be for the coming season of Advent. As part of my pre-Advent reflection, I pray for an image, a phrase, or a quote to draw me in and set the tone and the direction for the next four weeks.
This year what came to me were two words: “The Body.” My immediate response was, “Not again!” As many of you who follow my blog are aware, the past two plus years have made both necessary and urgent the constant giving over of my time, attention, energy, and care to “The Body.” Two years spent on physical therapy and healing practices rather than on other elements of my life—like play, or creativity, or yes, how about some fun for a change?
How about it, indeed? Fortunately, my initial “Oh, no!” reaction was tempered by another of my spiritual practices: mining whatever comes into my life and what I might learn from it. My attitude was also redirected by receiving a beautiful Christmas letter from Eileen of the Andes, which included Ronald Rolheiser’s reminder that, “God in Jesus became what God loves—everything human.”
That sentence stopped me in my tracks. God in Jesus became what God loves, and that is everything human. Isn’t this at the heart of the Incarnation we celebrate this Christmas season? We bow before the mystery of a God who loved us so completely, so extravagantly, that the Holy One wanted no separation between Jesus and us. Jesus, the son of God who, though also divine, knew what it was to fully inhabit a human body, to become what God loves. Jesus experienced the fullness of our human bodies when he shivered with cold, fell into bed exhausted, savored fresh bread, drank wine at a wedding, as we do. When he laughed with friends, hugged toddlers, wept over rejection, felt the sting of criticism or the loneliness of prophecy, as we do.
This Christmas, may we take time to celebrate the truth that Emmanuel, God-with-us, gets it. He really gets what it means to inhabit everything human. As he read from the prophet Isaiah in the synagogue (Luke 4:16-21), he proclaimed that he was anointed to bring good news to humble and fragile bodies; that he was called to heal broken and wounded bodies; that he was sent to announce liberation to captive bodies, just as we are.
May we, who share the “everything human” that God loves, be tender and gracious with ourselves and others when we notice the limitations that come with being human. Perhaps we’re at a juncture in our lives when we can no longer do what we once did, but can we pause every day to give thanks for the gift of being alive, grateful for what we can do? May we reverence and respect our precious bodies that are the vehicles for our awakening at this time, in this place, this Christmas and always.
Sit in stillness with the Holy One.
Spend time reflecting on the seeming ordinariness of Jesus’ daily life and of how the everyday activities of your human body mirror his.
Offer thanks to the Holy One for inviting you to become the “everything human” that God loves.
Featured Image: Leon Oblak, Unsplash
Christmas blessings! Know how grateful I am for your comments, support, and following of Mining the Now. May you and those you love experience peace and healing in this holy season. I look forward to learning from and being blessed by your good company all through the new year ahead.
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