Your Heart, His HomeGet on your knees, dummy

ben white 137387 unsplash Man kneeling at beach / / Ben White on Unsplash

It was a rather odd little flare-up of multiple sclerosis. I'd gradually gone numb from my lower back, down the back of my legs, and across the bottom of my feet. I could still walk and move normally, and to look at me you'd never know this was going on, but I couldn't feel the back part of my lower body. I will leave to your imagination the full range of indignities such a condition introduced, but among them, sitting was terribly irritating and at times, a little iffy. 

As this exacerbation stretched on for some months, it got a little wearing. One day, it came to a head as I was sitting in adoration. The chapel at my church had very hard wooden pews that were uncomfortable even when I could feel my whole body, but combined with this weird sensation, I was having a hard time entering into prayer. As I grumbled about this before the Blessed Sacrament, it was as if the Lord said to my heart, "Why don't you kneel, dummy?" (This is one of his many terms of endearment for me; another favorite is "donkey." You see the pattern . . .) 

So, I got on my knees. And, of course, immediately, I discovered this was the perfect position for prayer – I could feel the front side of my body. I could feel my knees and shins pressing against the kneeler. I could feel the pew in front of me touching my abdomen. It was almost like my symptoms disappeared and for the duration of my holy hour, I felt whole and stable and entered into a lovely period of prayer with a huge smile of relief across my face and spirit. 

I am a dummy, but a much-loved one.

In contemplating Christ's Passion in the especially intentional way that we do during Lent, it cannot escape our attention that Jesus did in fact choose human nature to express himself. He does in fact have a body, a vulnerable body with many needs, a body that submitted itself to the laws of human growth; a body that suffered, a body that thirst and bled and responded fully and humanly to every kind of pain. A body that felt relief, too, in our acts of compassion. 

Because of this, we know: the body matters. Your body matters. In all of its limitations and needs, in all of its wonder and beauty, in the ways that it allows you to connect to the human family and to God; your body matters. The great convert, Robert Hugh Benson wrote, "We are body as well as soul; we are incomplete without the body. The soul is insufficient to itself, the body has as real a part to play in Redemption as the soul."

We needn't fear the radical vulnerability that it is to be in a human body. In choosing all that it means, Jesus not only dignifies human nature and exalts it, he shows us how our bodies can become vehicles by which he can introduce us to more of his mercy and his grace. If the limitations of my body keeps me on my knees before the Father, then I am blessed indeed, even if a smidge numb and a bit dumb. 

Father, thank you for the tremendous gift that it is to have a body, no matter how flawed or imperfect or needy it might be. Bless this body of mine that it may be effective to your purposes and a witness to your glory, mercy, and might.

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