“…mortal food and warmth for mortal limbs and bellies, no need (for a space) to think of gods and riddles and wonders.” – Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold, C.S. Lewis
Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” – John 21:12 (NRSV)
Some of my most fervent prayers have been uttered in the bathroom.
“Oh, Jesus. Please help me poop.”
“Oh, God. Make the barfing stop.”
“Dear God, please let me not be pregnant.”
“Dear God, please let me be pregnant.”
“Oh, Jesus. Seriously, get this shit out.”
When I say that in my life, the scatological has often brought upon the eschatological, I am absolutely serious. Anyone who has not begged for the end of all things as a swift resolution to the incapacitating pain of a particularly difficult bowel evacuation is a lying liar of lying proportions.
Those people are not to be trusted on spiritual matters.
Also, if you don’t cry out to Jehovah Jireh (the Lord Who Sees and Provides) in the throes of poop, can you even claim to be a spiritual person?
I posit that the more in tune you are with your bodily functions, the closer you are to the divine. For is not each of us Imago Dei?
Who hasn’t felt in their bones the question of theodicy when stuck in traffic and really having to shit followed immediately by the peace that transcends understanding after expelliarmus-ing your rectum in a safe and undisturbed environment?
Jesus likely threw up (no pun intended) those same desperate prayers and who doesn’t want to be more Christ-like? Well, he probably didn’t pray the pregnant ones – but I bet Mary, the Holy Mother of God, did. And if you can’t be more like the Messiah, settling for his mother isn’t too terrible a prospect.
And before you get on my case for being so glib, I will fully cop to the puerile delight I take from talking shit, both literally and figuratively. The thought of In The Beginning sitting on the can taking a dump – it makes me giggle.
However, it is not only because I like using fancy words for name dropping a deuce in a Lenten devotion. For me, I find Jesus’s undeniable physicality the most compelling thing about the Incarnation.
Too often, we act as if enlightenment requires sole focus on the deep and profound, as if our actual bodies are divorced from the sacred. As if there are two selves when in truth, there is only one; intertwined and indivisible.
If we cannot acknowledge the substance of which we are made – our very flesh – if we cannot bring God into our ridiculous bodies, what good is God? For are we not made of dust and unto dust we shall return?
Our dust matters. Our shit matters.
I need a God who can wade in the muck. A God who isn’t afraid to get dirty and sweaty and cry and be human.
A God made vulnerable.
We are at our most sacred when we are most aware of our physical body. Why else would we cry out, “Oh, my God!” in circumstances both base and sublime? It is our absurd flesh that sanctifies us.
And if we are Imago Dei, who is to say that God isn’t corporeal in the way only gods can be?
I’m sure there are lots of thinky, theological reasons as to why God chose to manifest themself into a human body, but generally, I don’t care much about those.
I mean, I care in a sort of vague, theologically robust way because who wants their theology to be lacking in robustness? But it’s not particularly relatable and if I’m honest with myself, most days, I want a relatable god.
This is not to say that I want a god made in my image.
Rather, I want to worship a God who doesn’t only exist in some metaphysical state and theoretically understands what it is to be meat. I want a God actually experienced in being encased in and limited by meat, with meat-like wants and needs.
I want a God who eats, burps, farts, urinates, defecates, and excretes in all the proper human ways.
A God who, by their presence, makes an outhouse into the Holiest of Holies.
A God who isn’t afraid to be; Who is Real in the truest sense of the Word.
A God who can dwell in me.
Do I carve out my world into sacred and profane and keep God away from the profane? What parts of my world do I try to keep away from God, consciously or unconsciously? Are there parts of my world I somehow think God cannot penetrate into?