This last Sunday Morning, bright and early, I got to hear The Rev. Carlyle Gill preach here at St. Peter's, in the small town on the bay by the big water. Her sermon was wonderful. No surprise there. Carlyle is a fine preacher. But what was wonderful was her take on the lessons of the day - for the Sixth Sunday after Epiphany.
She took texts that could lead down various rabbit holes into strange wonderlands of fantasy and foolishness and turned them to their proper end - as texts through which the Spirit can speak, the Spirit that is "the in between God" the God who comes to us between the realities of who we are and the life abundant in God's hope for us. Well, you had to be there to be there. Or maybe not. Her sermon is up as an audio available HERE.
That afternoon I read several blog postings by strong women who I claim as friends: Elizabeth Kaeton, Margaret Watson, Chris Brennan Lee, and Susan Russell. I read several by men as well - Tobias Haller, Adrian Worsfold, Well, that's was a bit of an afternoon blog romp while making home made garam masala and home made paneer. All these folks are wonderful writers, but I am particularly thankful this afternoon for the blogging of strong women, good friends.
My thankfulness was prodded, I think, by Elizabeth Keaton's post, "Lena Dunham's Nudity." It's quite the amazing bit of writing, even for Elizabeth. Go read it.
I have no notion what sort of ideas I had about who women were fifty years ago when I was twenty, but I don't think they were particularly enlightened. But I do remember that I was (and still am) drawn to women who I would call strong. It is perfectly clear to me that my being attracted to these women is, let us say, layered. But whatever the layers, at least part of the attraction is that these women are aware of who they are body and soul.
Body and Soul.
They have a strong sense of what it means to be in the world with all its foibles, joys, sorrows, tragedies, and the like. Their bodies and souls both bear the marks of living and persevering. So when they write they write from the fullness of living. And the strength it takes to speak from that place is amazingly attractive to me.
My brother Christopher once wrote me and said, "Pray for my soul, I'm hoping to get one for Christmas." Indeed, I have felt the same way about soul, and more often about body, having one that I have not been sure at times was mine. Discomfort with body and disconnection with soul is a reality for many of us human types.
Having a body and soul turns out not be a matter of physical or metaphysical reality, but a matter of incarnation. We know that, of course, about soul. But body? Surely body is already flesh? But friends, unless we are careful flesh is just meat on the fly. What incarnation is about is flesh that is part and parcel of the the reality of someone's being.
Body and Soul is about "Our Bodies, Our Selves." It is about body being who we are ourselves not some objectified other defined by expectations, and soul being about who we are in ourselves, not some idealized norm. (The book "Our Bodies Ourselves" was and is a very important project and continues to be published and updated - but that's another story...closely related)
The notion that we need to attend to the incarnational reality of who we are - body and soul - is a powerful one, and powerful women writers have led the way in capturing the struggle to keep body and soul together.
The strongest woman I know doesn't write a blog. She takes photographs, she meditates, she listens, she feels, hears, tastes, smells, sees all the world of body and soul and then, in some way takes all that and incorporates it into a non-anxious non attached reception and acceptance. Its pretty amazing.
But for the rest, I give thanks for strong women who write and preach with strength and wonder. They help make the world a place where we can keep it together. That is, they heal. Check in with Elizabeth Kaeton, Margaret Watson, Chris Brennan Lee, and Susan Russell. Each brings body and soul to their work.