“This bread is my body.” – 1 Corinthians 11: 13
We say we want a more “bodily” theology, more attachment to our bodies, even more embodiment. I am always mystified by these statements. This body? Or the one from the magazine?
I know what kind of theology we are against. We don’t want to be so heady, so dry, so intellectual. We want to feel something. A shudder. A shiver. An almost involuntary shaking of the hands or movement of the hips. We want to feel the God we can name in our heads in our arteriosclerotic hearts. We are afraid life finally turns into knees and hips. We know we need a spiritual cataract operation, a lifting of the veil. I know what we mean by disembodied theology.
But what do we mean by bodily theology, the kind that demands our all: heart, soul, mind? Do we mean the chemical and the spiritual aspects of dementia, both, not either? Or the way we are either psychosomatic or somato-psychic and can’t figure out which most of the time?
We appear to be of a piece. The worst thing I find about my own aging is that I am losing my grip. Physically first. I hate being intimidated by packaging and having to carry scissors around. But I do and I am. I have a feeling there is a spiritual correlate to this and that it doesn’t just reside in the folk wisdom.
Jesus points to bread and says it is his body. Is that really such a mystery, knowing what we know about all of us? By all I mean the head part and the body part and the way they never really leave each other alone.
Let me see Jesus in bread, as body, and let me know all of him.
Donna Schaper is Senior Minister at Judson Memorial Church in New York City. Her most recent book is I Heart Frances: Letters to the Pope from an Unlikely Admirer.