I grew up a staunch Catholic believing that the human body is overall a bad thing, a cause of temptation, and an instrument of sin. It took me a good forty years to realize the magnificence, majesty, and mystery of the human body which I am privileged to own all these years.
When I began to see my body with a renewed awareness of its mystical and miraculous qualities, it became a source of salvation rather than a cause of temptation.
If you really think about it, the human body is an amazing masterpiece of mystery and miracles.
I remember reading an article in Newsweek about the miracle of our body:
Stop scratching your back and take a quick tour of mother nature’s engineering masterpiece — the human spine. Pretend you are a mouse. You can climb among the muscles, nerves, bones, and ligaments that make up the very core of your body. Crawl down the 24 vertebrae that encase and protect the spinal cord, from the cervical spine to the thoracic area to the lumbar region, that pesky lower back. Note the 23 rubbery white discs, the cartilage inner tube that cushion the vertebrae. Observe the dozens of spinal nerves threading out from the chord between the bones. Poke the band of muscles that wrap and support the bony column. Now focus on the tugs and thuds of daily life!
Our body is with us all the time, but we don’t pay much attention to its ethos and rhythms. Meditating on its meticulous structure can be literally a mind-boggling experience.
The fact that our bodies started as a single cell in our mother’s womb that grew and multiplied to become a hundred trillion-cell organism, makes me bend my mental knees to genuflect in grateful worship of the Creator of my body.
Apostle Paul’s description of the human body as the Temple of the Holy Spirit takes a new meaning.
Our hearts beat about 100,000 times a day and pump about 2,000 gallons of blood daily. We also take in about 2,000 gallons of oxygen to oxygenate the blood which flows through the body through our blood vessels — arteries, veins, and capillaries — over 60,000 miles long. That is long enough to go around the Earth more than twice!
While all those vital, palpable systems are functioning, a million other processes are at work in our bodies without our awareness or attention.
Instead of experiencing this miracle happening inside us all the time, and bowing in adoration to that mystery, we are distracted and seek answers to our queries from outside of us and drive ourselves crazy in the process. Meditate on these piercing words of Sufi poet, Rumi:
“I’ve lived on the lip of insanity, wanting to know reasons. The door opens: I’ve been knocking from the inside.”
(from Cosmic Kindergarten: Earthly Lessons for a Heavenly Life)