What are the messages you received about your body or about other people’s bodies? What are the stories you have heard, the values inherited, the words said off-hand that have stuck with you over the years?
Bodies are the most undeniable truth about existence, yet somehow they are also the things we most treat as other. A problem to be solved, rather than a miraculous gift.
Ours is a culture of body shame and body hierarchy, with a spectrum of good-to-bad bodies, with the “default” body most often being able-bodied, white, cis male, straight, and middle class. All injustice can be traced to this hierarchy and the ways we have come to believe that some bodies are more deserving, more right, and inherently better than others. Even when we know better and believe something else, these stories live in us and drive our purchases, our parenting, and even our sense of purpose.
The world teaches us that bodies are often a source of shame, but in our faith, we believe that all bodies are sacred. This is not a statement about bodies being pain-free, pleasurable, or even always good. It is an affirmation that all bodies are sacred, as in sacramental, and holy. Perfect, not as in perfected, but whole. This truth does not take away from the real grief of losing capacity in our bodies, or the struggles we have in and with our bodies. Instead, it locates the problem not with our bodies, but in the systems and structures and cultures we have inherited and upheld based on body shame and body hierarchy.
Creating a world where all bodies are affirmed as sacred begins in childhood before we unlearn the goodness and truth of our bodies. To unlearn these messages and to act differently as adults requires an intentional, ongoing process. A process that is often vulnerable, as it does often deal with shame – including, shame about shame. It requires honestly facing the internal and often subconscious messages we have about fat bodies, disabled bodies, bodies of color, aging bodies, and queer and trans bodies. In our culture of body shame and body hierarchy, this healing journey can never be a one-time thing. It requires instead a life-long, ongoing commitment of compassion – towards ourselves and towards others. It requires shifting our daily life – our purchases, our practices, our identities. It requires a lot of stumbling and shifting and a lot of grace.
But on the other side of this journey is a world of real freedom, and joy, a world and a life where we can all know and fully experience the truth of radical, unconditional, transcendent love. In all of our lives and in all of our bodies.
We hope to see you this Sunday as we kick off our February series All Bodies Are Sacred. We gather at 8:30 AM in person and 10:30 AM in person or online. You can find service details at foothillsuu.org/sunday and answers to our most frequently asked questions at foothillsuu.org/faq.