Updated: Feb 22, 2019
Middle school was when I began to disconnect from this good body of mine. I did not know how to embrace my new curves and bumps, so I hid them. What I knew from the example from women around me (who learned from the women before them) was that this body needed to be kept a certain shape, something to be managed. Slowly, I became obsessed with my weight and self image, chained to the destructive pattern of an eating disorder.
What I’ve seen though, is that a person does not have to have an eating disorder to be disconnected from their body. There are all sorts of ways we disconnect. We have a culture that sees the body and its many different forms as something to “shape up.”
I also grew up in a conservative Christian church and if the body was talked about at all, it was in reference to “sins of the flesh.” Sadly, this produced further disconnection out of fear to not trust my body.
Combine these narratives with a bit of trauma, and it’s a recipe for full disconnection, which is my story. From Bessel Van Der Kolk (The Body Keeps the Score) we know that our bodies literally keep track of these narratives and hold them present within us.
THERE IS HOPE
Along my journey which took me through not only an eating disorder, but also an autoimmune disease, I began to listen and learn from my body. I began to understand the gift that my body is.
The Celtics believed that our bodies quite literally were symbolic of different attributes of God. From the crown of our heads to our feet, and everything in between, all representing a bigger reality of us. The wisdom planted in our minds, the beauty and love in our hearts, the creativity in our womb, the strength in us, and our presence. Our physical space matters and I began the work of trusting mine.
This place we hold both blood, sweat and tears also holds the sacred reflection of the divine. “The image of God has been woven into the fabric of our being,” says J. Philip Newell. The idea around Delighted is about returning to, embracing and reconnecting to this sacred space.
Long before middle school, managing the shape of bodies or any theological understanding of sins of the flesh, there was the story of Eve, the first woman of the Bible. In Jewish and Celtic tradition, she represents the essence of all women. Her name means “life giver,” and she was created in the Garden of Eden, or Garden of “Delight.” Her tender curves, her body that invites and holds strength, her womb, her beauty, her wisdom, her desires. Eve, creative in essence, is a reflection of her Creator.
The story of Eve speaks of our truest state within us, truer than anything else we define ourselves as and truer than anything that we have done or has been done to us in our bodies.
“In the Biblical tradition, the Garden of Eden is our place of deepest identity. It represents our genesis in God and the essential goodness of our origins. It is not a place from which we are separated in space and time. Rather, it is a dimension within us from which we have become divorced...
Spirituality does not consist of being told what to do. It consists of being reminded of who we are.”
-Echo of the Soul. J. Philip Newell
I love the story of Jesus as it relates to his work in restoring in us a path to Eden, a path to Delight. It is Christ that bares the weight of the brokenness that separated us in the first place. It is through His work that creates a bridge to return and restore this place in us. It is through Christ, by which all things were made, that we have access to return, if we pay attention, we will find delight deep within.
We have an invitation to return.
You know what is kind of fun about delight? It tricks us into being present in our bodies. It tricks us into joy and gratitude in the same breath. Delight does not expected us to perform for it or repay it, we just enjoy it, take it in, and sink into soul rest. Delight is an effortless exchange that sparks life within us.
Delighted is our truest posture towards God and ourselves; body, mind & soul in union.
The world is so full of endless delight waiting for us to discover it and remember. A sunset every night, a cup of coffee on a quiet morning, the ocean, a sleeping snugly baby, velvety chocolate cake, a friends robust laugh. Yoga, hugs, cartwheels, baking or gazing at the stars in wonder are just a few of the things that entice me to this delight.
Yet all of these experiences are just a hint toward something deeper and richer. We must search, as if for a hidden treasure, to the place of Eden within where we commune with a living God who loves us. It is in practicing this that I have begun to reconnect. Delighted is about returning to unity and harmony with ourselves and our Creator.
We'll get to the next part of the story, but for now, let's look for delight.
What is it for you? What reconnects you to this place of truest origin?
Echo of the Soul, J. Philip Newell