Grief for the loss of so many bodies. So many black bodies. So many transgender bodies. So many bodies lost to COVID 19. So many LGBTQ bodies ravaged by bullies and by parents. So many female and child bodies raped or sexually enslaved.

My heart is troubled. Images of a body on the street crying out for breath; a body chased down and beaten simply because they did not fit in; a body kicked to the streets by parents; a body suffering alone in the hospital. So many troubling images. So many tragic stories.

This morning I read a kōan from a friend.

There is one treasure hidden in the Body: The Body’s Path to Awakening. This very body is the Buddha—the Awakened One.

Two weeks ago, I would’ve read that to say that our bodies hold our trauma—and left unhealed, the body will speak up in the form of cancer, heart disease, diabetes. This was my journey last year when I had to learn to care for this body of mine fully and completely. A lifechanging, lifesaving message for me.

But this morning, this kōan had something else to say.

This morning it speaks not of the individual body but our collective bodies—our corporate body, our body politic. And what is this body saying?

It is speaking of our crushed parts, our ignored parts, our actively traumatized parts. Our feared parts.

That’s what’s involved here, bodies that the head—the people “in charge”—fear. White people fear black bodies. Men fear female bodies. Straight, cisgender people fear queer bodies. Abled people fear disabled bodies. Rich bodies fear poor bodies. Fear often buried deep in our subconscious.

We want to control what we fear… to help us feel less afraid. So our heads repress the guilt, stress, strain, that these fears have worked as actions into the body.

Our heads say, “Everything’s fine, go about your business, nothing to see here.”

But our bodies are telling the stories. A world is lamenting loved ones lost to COVID 19. Trans people sharing stories about horrific violence. LGBTQ people are reliving the torture in so-called “ex-gay therapy.” Survivors are telling of their sexual abuse. And people are capturing on their phones ongoing atrocities against black lives. Our bodies—the ones that are not straight, white, rich male bodies—have been shamed long enough.

We will no longer be bodyshamed.

And please, do not denigrate yourself by quoting some scripture to argue or defend what is happening. Your scripture tells you to love and empower these very bodies that the head has disempowered and thrown to the side in heaps.

Let’s read the kōan again.

There is one treasure hidden in the Body: The Body’s Path to Awakening. This very body is the Buddha—the Awakened One.

These bodies are awakening us to the changes we must make. They are becoming woke. As we know from individual illnesses, if the head doesn’t listen, the body will shut it all down. If our heads do not listen to these bodies, the bodies will speak up more forcefully and become even harder to ignore.

This is the treasure hidden in the body: that these bodies will be heard. That is my fervent prayer and desire.

With transformational love, Susan


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