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A Benediction for Your Body
The words of a blessing I offered at Laity Lodge this weekend
Nate and I arrived home last night around 2am from five nights away in south Texas at our favorite place in the world. I was speaking at a retreat with David Taylor on a weekend we titled Sensing Jesus (drawn, of course, from Zack Eswine’s lovely and out of print book). David spoke about scent and sound and taste, and I spoke about touch and sight. We ended the weekend with the Eucharist and this benediction I’d written at 11pm the night before. Afterwards a number of people asked if I’d share it and I said I’d post it here for them to access later.
All of that is a long way to say that this is really just for the fifty or so people at the retreat, but I send it to the thousands of you as well, as a blessing of sorts for your own very good bodies too.
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May your ears be tuned to the voice of God, the presence of the Spirit, the abiding love of the Father, the friendship of the Son. May you hear the sound of your own soul amidst the clamor of the world’s demands and your inner critic’s shame. May you hear the cries of the wounded and war-torn, forsaken and forgotten, the scarred and scared, and may your heart be turned toward them.
May your hands and feet and shoulders and arms and legs and belly and neck be soothed by the peace of God, stretched and smoothed under the mighty hands of Goodness itself. May the vulnerability of feeling and being felt become a welcome sensation wherever it comes. May you tend to the skin and cells of your own body, care for your body as God cares for it too. May it become commonplace to rest a hand on a shoulder or to offer your own shoulder to others when they need it.
May your nose draw in the breath of God, the fragrance of earth and soil and leaves and the sun and oils and guitar strings and steak seared to perfection and wood fire and the lightest rain after the longest summer and may you find God somewhere in it all. May the smells that have haunted you begin to heal. May the scents that delight you become commonplace. May you become the fragrance of God to others.
May your eyes see the goodness of God in the land of the living. May you behold what is broken and sometimes find the beauty in it. May you also behold what is broken and endeavor to never pretend it is fixed before it is. May your eyes tell you the truth when your heart disbelieves or your soul withers or your spirit grieves. May you also be seen, and may you learn to be delighted to be seen by the ones who see you rightly.
May your mouth taste the sweetness of God in salmon and sugar, toothpaste and tea, bacon and balsamic dressing drizzled over fresh greens. May you believe in daily bread even when the bread you have eaten has sometimes stale or tasted like a stone. May the manna God gives for today be enough. May you feed the hungry food in season, rich and abundant, not canned or stale. May all your feasts be delicious.
Finally, may you be covered in the dust of your Rabbi, your teacher who walks ahead of you, behind you, around you, within you. May you be coated in the earth he kicks up, the matter of the world, the real and tangible. May love, in the words of Richard Wilbur, call you to the things of this world as it called Jesus to the things of this world too, and may you sense Jesus as you go from here.
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