Synchroblog: My Body, My Jerusalem

On March 13, my first book, Embracing the Body: Finding God In Our Flesh & Bone, officially launched.

The day before, March 12, marked six months of life for my daughter, and a huge milestone for my own body in terms of continued health and well-being.

But I haven’t written much about that, have I?

You’ve noticed, I’m sure, that it’s been silent around here. As I transitioned into biological motherhood (I am also step-mother to three adult children, and grandmother to two), God was deep at work in the unseen places of my soul. Even before my daughter’s birth, I was relatively quiet about my pregnancy, something I hadn’t expected of myself. But these things felt wordless, even when it frustrated me. A dear friend of mine offered a definition that has helped me in these inarticulate places: You’re in the midst of a long meditation.

Pregnancy and motherhood, after all, are deeply embodied experiences, and I’ve been living, loving and speaking about God’s stories through our bodies for several years now.

I suspect in some ways that my quiet on the subject has been reflective of more than just a personal, hidden space between me and God. There are definitely things that are too sacred for the public square, no matter how much I love the Anam Cara community and all who read my words. However, there’s something, too, about the vulnerability of the stories our bodies tell—to us, about us, and about God—that seems to cause us to hide more quickly than almost anything else.

Bodies, our bodies, matter to God. Very little underlines this truth more boldly than Jesus’s Passion, the story of which begins today, Palm Sunday, with Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem. God incarnate entered into the holy city for the purpose of redemption, and He did so by taking on our flesh and bone.

This week, Holy Week, is inescapably physical. From the palms that are waved when Jesus enters the city all the way to the blood and water pouring from His side on the Cross through to Christ’s appearance in a body glorified but not unwounded, God seems insistent that we pay attention to the matter of which we’re made. Jesus’s actions in this week are so earthy as to be obvious—his tears over Jerusalem, the whip He fashions at the Temple, the towel He wraps around Himself as He washes the disciples feet, the bread and wine broken and served, the sweating blood, the kiss. All this and we still haven’t come to the beatings, the thorns, the pain, the Cross.

I remember standing naked in front of my bathroom mirror early in my pregnancy, early enough that none of the changes taking place within me had begun to make an outward appearance. Then, I took the time to thank my body as I’d know it up until then—my stomach and thighs, my breasts and arms, my skin and hair. Although the changes were already taking place, it was time to say goodbye. Not to my body as a whole, but to my body as I’d known it most of my adult life.

We don’t often get those moments in our stories. Moments to recognize the body that has been, to thank and bless it, to recognize the transition and say goodbye to all that was. Most of those moments of transition come instead either achingly gradually—muscle tone slowly lost over decades of aging—or painfully suddenly—when disease or accident irrevocably change our physical topography. Very rarely do we get the opportunity to see what is happening and acknowledge it at the time, mostly we do so in retrospect, but, for the most part, many of us do not do it at all.


The body I have now bears some resemblance to the body I had before I became pregnant. I’m still 5’6” tall, I still have blue eyes, and slightly crooked fingers on my right hand. I still have horrible eyesight and an allergy to bee stings. But so much about me has changed, my organs and tissue making room for the life that grew within me, opening up a space inside me that only another life could create. Technically, even my blood has changed; I carry within myself a few stray cells here and there that were not originally my own—my daughter’s DNA inhabiting me, part of me now even as I gave her part of myself.

It was painful to say goodbye to all that I’d known, and I’d be lying to you if I said I’d made peace with all the changes that have come in this journey so far. Some of them still surprise and discomfit me, and I think they’re meant to.

Jesus entered Jerusalem not to leave it as it was. He entered it and was welcomed with hosannas, just as my husband and I welcome the news of this new life entering ours. But quickly all that He was about, the changes that He meant to make threatened the status quo. All that He was—human and divine—was inconvenient to those who liked things as they were, and as a result they went about condemning and ultimately crucifying Him.

As I enter Holy Week this year, I’m so aware of the ways I’m physically different than I was last year. And my hope, my prayer is that Christ will continue to help me see those changes as markers of His Kingdom. It’s easy enough to see stretch marks as imperfection or aching joints as a sign of the Fall. But I know Christ didn’t take on blood and bone to have me reject those very things, even when they’re not doing what I want them to. My prayer this week is that the physical actions He took as He took on our sin and effected our salvation will reflect for me the ways that He’s still redeeming me—soul and body. And as I continue to make room for this new life both outside and inside me, I’ll see God’s kingdom even more fully in my flesh and bone.

* * *

To continue this theme of embracing the body during Holy Week (I know, I know, see what I did there?), I’m hosting a synchroblog from now through Easter Monday. I’ll be giving away two copies of Embracing the Body to anyone who joins in. Here’s the topic:

Holy Week is so much about the body—foot washing, eating together, betrayal with a kiss, not to mention the intense experience of the crucifixion—but we seem to avoid talking about that fact and what it means for our bodies, even so. What aspect of Holy Week resonates most with your embodied experience right now? Or what’s hardest? Write about that.

I invite you this week to join in. To reflect. To feel physically this journey to the Cross, to the Grave and to Resurrection. I’d love to read what you have to share. If you do, you can use the synchroblog badge below, as well.


Here’s the code: <a href=””><img class=”aligncenter wp-image-1705″ src=”” alt=”etbbadge” width=”400″ height=”400″ /></a>


Thank you for all the wonderful entries! I loved reading your reflections, and will be continuing to share them over the next few days.

And now, our winners:

Esther Emery



Thank you for your entries. I’m truly grateful.


featured image: Humble Procession of the King by Whitney Tomlin