Discover more from Along the Way with Jonas Ellison
I had a heck of a night the other night...
In hindsight, it was nothing out of the ordinary. You have these nights too. You know, the ones when, in the wee hours, all of the worst-case scenarios haunt you.
My worries seemed so real. So visceral. As a seasoned toss-and-turner, I knew what was happening. But it didn’t help.
And then, the sun came up. I had my ceremonial cup of coffee, read a bit, and went on a bike ride with Alex to this incredible spot in Santa Cruzcalled Wilder Ranch State Park (have you been there?). We took the bike path from the place we’re staying and continued onto this dirt path that makes a 2-mile loop right along the ocean. There was hardly anyone there.
And on my bike, with my legs and heart pumping blood and all kinds of feel-good chemicals through my brain and body, I realized…
All is well.
All of that stuff that haunted me the night before. All the stuff that seemed so real…None of it was that big of a deal. It would all work out. Or, it wouldn’t. But either way, life would roll on the way it has for 44 years (in my case).
So, what’s the difference? Why the terror when I was lying in my bed being tossed around in the waves that crested on the precipice between consciousness and sleep? And why the calm along this beautiful shoreline on my bike with my beloved?
I’d say it’s the difference between abstract thought and embodied being.
When we live purely in the realm of thought, the mind holds sway over us. And our minds, though wonderful gifts, are also very fickle. They’re a mixture of artfulness, wonder, creativity, intelligence and… lizard-brain-triggered fear and insecurities that we’ve carried with our species since the Stone Age. A big role of our minds is to scare us and overly alert us so as to keep us alive.
And so, at night, when I’m staring at the darkness trying to fall asleep, my body has turned in for the evening and has left my mind in charge.
But during the day, my body is moving. I’m indwelling it. I am more aware of it because I can see it, I use it, I can feel it. I am whole again, mind and body together. And my mind is more easily tamed by my body’s there-ness.
Christianity is an embodied faith.
In Christianity, God doesn’t come as a concept or a disembodied idea.
God indwells a body and lives a bodily existence with other bodies.
This is why the bodily movements of the ancient liturgical tradition are so important for spiritual development… We sit, stand, kneel, stand again, cross ourselves, bow, close our eyes, open our eyes, walk, shake hands, smell the incense, sing, cry, hug, eat the bread, and drink the wine.
Church that merely involves sitting in a large warehouse listening to people talk and sing at me for an hour and then going home is not the best for my soul. It quiets my body. I get too far up into my headspace. God becomes a law, an ideological/moral construct, an emotion, or a theory of worldly success. But this god is a disembodied and abstract one. It is not a Triune and embodied one like Jesus.
In Jesus, God enters our bodily existence and sits with other inspirited bodies in our joy and suffering. Without the body, there is no Christianity. Consciously being in and interacting through our bodies keeps us whole because that’s where God indwells us, redeems us, and restores us.
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I’ll share more about why I’ve been in Santa Cruz so much lately in an upcoming post.
I’m afraid that in our digital world, more and more of us are living disembodied lives where we spend most of our time in our heads. Our lives are being overtaken by concepts, ideologies, etc. without the personal embodiment of in-person community and togetherness.