Day 14 – Spiritual Life is Physical

and she anointed Jesus’ feet with it, wiping his feet with her hair. – John 12:3

So it went the first time I saw a Muslim pray — quick, necessary, physical, muttered, striking. Next time I was praying in church — on my knees, immobile, silent before Christ on the Cross — the image of this callisthenic communion with God in the middle of bags of flour kept coming to my mind. – Life of Pi

When I was young, I prayed on my knees because Sunday School teachers said your posture shows respect. When I became a teen, I was told that what matters is the heart so I can pray however I want, even lying down. To believe that only prayers on knees are heard is legalism, the death of faith.

Now a days in the mornings, I pray with my palms turned upwards. When I come to church, I lift my hands before the cross. In the evening I have to get on my knees. I am sure God hears my prayers no matter my posture, but “I” cannot pray lying down on a bed. I find it impossible to direct my heart when my body is going limp ready to sleep.

Our society is highly sexual but disembodied. We love our bodies (idealized, photoshoped and glossed) but we do not inhabit them. We are not aware of our bodies even as we care how others view my body. Sexual but disembodied.

Evangelical Christianity drinks the same water.

So we see Mary drying Jesus feet with her hair as sensuous, when it is the purest devotion in the book of John. “Anything physical is sexual and so it cannot be spiritual,” I can almost hear a church deacon say. We assume that physical disciplines takes us away from our spirit and borders on legalism. Such are the fibs that keep us from anything physical in our spiritual life.So we read silently, pray in our hearts, and on Sunday morning we throw one arm around our spouse and slouch with a coffee on the other hand as if we are watching a game on our sofa. So this is our grand freedom from legalism, to worship in any posture we want.

A catholic women told me that she cannot get used to our contemporary worship because it does not have enough physical movements, too cerebral, too mental.

We cannot love our God with all of our heart, until we love God with all of our body.

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