For Christians, December is an expectant month. We’ve set our clocks back, noticed our emotions darken a bit with the abrupt change to early evening darkness and in many places, a downward trudge into increasingly cold weather. As we move into the depths of winter toward the lights of Christmas, we would like to reflect on the things that give us hope in the darkness and in this time of waiting – waiting for justice, waiting for healing. What sustains us in this period of waiting? One thing that helps me get through periods of waiting is practicing a deep appreciation for the mystery and gift of incarnation. This isn’t something inherit to the Christian faith many of us have been given. The sinfulness of the body is embedded in many versions of Christianity. The results of which have been quite dramatic throughout history but also show up in the way we view sexuality today. Many still believe that the matter of the body itself, is sinful, and I wonder if this theology has enabled us to build a culture that affirms food borne from laboratories over farms. As a busy doer of many things, I often find myself sick in December. It’s as if my body decides with finality that it is time for my speed to match that of the season. Despite myself I find myself reading more, drinking tea in a kind of reverie of reflection and curling up for long naps with my furry creatures. It is usually in this state of what for me, I would call suspended animation, that I begin to appreciate my body. This meat sack that hosts my Spirit and carries it around has tremendous resilience. Always striving toward homeostasis, this body manages to overcome the daily toxins in put in her. The caffeine and recreational alcohol, the refined sugar and god knows what chemicals in the food I feed her are all neutralized. She tucks away these harmful substances for a day when the onslaught of toxic intake subsides, when she can safely and cleanly dispose of these unusable and harmful substances from the body. That’s why this year, my partner and I will be spending Christmas at a retreat called Optimum Health where we will be cleansing. If you aren’t familiar with cleansing it’s a process of scaling back on our intake of food to allow the body’s systems to restore itself. You may be more familiar with fasting and this too is a means of allowing the digestive system a break so that the cleaning systems of the body may be energized to take on the focus of the body’s work. For us this Christmas this will entails eating a raw, vegan plant-based diet for one week, resting and putting up with the lethargy and headaches that will certainly be a part of the experience. The diet and protocols we will be engaging can actually be traced back to the Essenes. The Essenes didn’t cook their food and they had a very specific practice of eating fresh seasonal food. They soaked and sprouted grains and didn’t eat meat. While I am not an expert in the Essenes and am basically taking the word of others that this is the kind of diet the Essenes ate, my imagination delights in that I might be eating in the style of my spiritual teacher. As a bodyworker, I am often overcome with emotion in a session when I am working on a client’s hands. “These hands are the hands of God,” is something I often think as I work on them. There is a beauty to knowledge that God is working through not only our hearts and minds but through our bodies to co-create the kingdom of God on Earth as in heaven. There is a different quality to embodied knowledge than pure intellectual understanding. There is a depth of wisdom that comes from experience embodied. This means having your body in a space and experiencing the wisdom holistically, body mind and spirit. This advent season my prayer for myself is to honor the body I have been given and to honor her needs when she needs them. Amen.
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