Living Life Through the Lived Body

by Mark Votava


I have always been taught by the church tradition that I grew up with that the body is bad.  Maybe they didn’t say this directly, but I have heard so much talk about original sin that it doesn’t seem like there is any goodness within me.  Is my body really sinful?  If I answer yes to this question – How can I live my life without hating who I am?

I really don’t know.  But I am learning to care for myself, to honor my body and see this as a good thing.  I am seeing that I need to embrace my body and not reject it as something that is bad.  Living in my body is full of wonder, peace and love.

Sometimes I get small epiphanies of how much I am loved by God for just being me.  I am created in the image of God, this is the image of love.  My body is who I am.  It is good, beautiful, full of wonder, love, compassion, kindness and peace.

If you have been on the end of abuse in life it is so hard to value who you are sometimes.  To constantly receive messages from religious people that your body is bad is really difficult to take and makes life much harder to live.  I am coming to see that my life is beautiful, my body is wonderful and I am created to be an expression of love through this life I have been given by God through the lived body.  How can we express love if not through the body?

So I am coming to care for my body, to get enough sleep, food and exercise to function properly in everyday life.  I am creating rhythms and habits that help my body to live to its fullest potential in the here and now.  The future is before me in the present moment through my lived body that is engaging the world with beauty.

  •  The wisdom the lived body

The wisdom of the lived body is needed to be in relationship with others, God and our place.  When we dismiss the body, we dismiss our spirituality.  We dismiss all wisdom in life.  We dismiss our very humanity.

  •  Dismissing what is beautiful, good and convivial

We dismiss all of our potential.  We dismiss all that is beautiful and good within us.  We dismiss the conviviality among us.

  •  A new understanding of the body

To come to a place of new understanding of the body is crucial for a change deep within us as the body of Christ in everyday life in the parish.  To create a sustainable shared life together we will have to recover the lived body.  To live in our bodies, to love in our bodies, to be silent in our bodies, to be passionate in our bodies for the good and beauty of the place we inhabit is what the mystical imagination longs for.

  •  Pay more attention

Lauren F. Winner writes, “What I want is to pay more attention – and more explicitly theological attention – to my body and the things it does every day and the connections between the work of my body and the daily service of God…”

How can we be more mindful of the goodness of our bodies?