Daily Connector | Embodiment | Sarah Werner

During this extended sabbatical from normal life, I’ve been finding myself thinking a lot about my body and about what it feels like to truly be embodied, a fragile being made of mud and stardust. Though no two bodies are alike, my body is not like many bodies in the way I move through the world. My body, like all bodies, is constantly changing—growing, evolving, sloughing old skin. My shins get bonier and sharper every year, while my arms have become slightly hulk-ish from pushing myself around in everyday life and wheelchair racing. I have felt pretty ambivalent about this, lamenting the things I have lost but also celebrating my strength in other ways. For the most part, I’ve just forged ahead into new activities and a different mode of being. I hadn’t until recently stopped to sit with how it feels to be in this particular body.

One of the reasons for this new avenue of contemplation has been that I had no idea what a distraction daily life was from the low-level constant pain of my body. Running errands, going to the park, hanging out with friends, and going to church all were a natural pain killer I was only vaguely aware of until the world screeched to a halt. My pain isn’t really fixable; it’s just a reality of being embodied in this particular form, with its spasticity and joint damage. In the absence of distractions, I have become more aware of how I feel, in nerve and muscle, but also how I feel emotionally about what has happened to me.

I’ve been meditating a lot more, and spending time allowing myself to feel embodied. I focus on each part of my body, what sensations it feels, where it’s tight, where it’s loose. I let myself feel the experience of pain but try not to get attached to the idea of being “in pain,” which is part of mindfulness-based pain management. I wasn’t totally prepared for the onslaught of emotion that this kind of body work would bring out, but I’ve been finding it incredibly cathartic. I am finding myself inhabiting more of myself than just my mind. I’m thinking about what it means that God knits us together in our mother’s womb, that we are fearfully and wonderfully made, in the words of Psalm 139. When I sit in the sunshine on my back porch, watching the deer and the trees as freckles darken on my arms, I feel more alive than I have in a while, and I am grateful for that gift.

For it was you who formed my inward parts;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
that I know very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.