Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Body

You’ll forgive me if I have had a little preoccupation with my body lately. Some remarkable things have been happening to it. Most visible to me (at least after every shower), is the conspicuous loss of muscle mass and subcutaneous fat. My body image has dramatically changed as I have shed more than 25 pounds and 2 waist sizes. During the peak of fluid retention, every area of my body felt water-logged, including legs, lungs, and even abdominal viscera. In addition I have gone through something akin to a reptilian molt cycle, shedding several layers of skin in an itchy snowstorm of flaky epidermis. The new me is something like a shaggy scare crow with elephant feet!

During the period when I was wracked with pain, I had hoped to somehow detach my conscious self from my body to ameliorate the pain without the side effects of medication. And while progressive muscle relaxation, isolation of the sources of pain, prayer and praise proved to be potent pain modification techniques, I found myself still attached to this body. It would not be shaken off – it stubbornly remained a fully integrated and intrusively present part of my conscious experience.

Some of you may say “Duh!” Others may wish to point me to the benefits of transcendental meditation. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, I have concluded that it is a good thing, while on this side of the grass, to stay attached to, and in tune with, one’s body. With or without the pain, fully ensconced within this physical frame, I am fully alive, grateful for the parts that are functioning well and attentive to those that are not. In fact, I am never more alive than when I feel the full assault of pain in my body.

It is no accident that a major and powerful metaphor for the community of believers in the New Testament is “the body of Christ”, implying that the church is a vibrant living organism rather than a cold, insensate organization. Birthed in faith, it is an inter-dependent fellowship in which each member moves in concert with one another in response to and fully attached to the Head.

I have been in AWE of the practical demonstration of this reality as I have been the beneficiary of the genuine love and concern and offers of help from literally hundreds of Christians both in my local church and those around the world. These, each members of the “body” and in tune with the spirit of Christ, have related to this member in such a real way that they have been driven to fast and pray for my healing and to join me in this battle against cancer. The authentic caring for one another has been both palpable and powerful (1Cor 12:25-26) and an evidence that HE is fully alive and still in the process of accomplishing His redemptive work in our world.

I am grateful for my body, frail as it is, but especially for His body. My prayer for each of you is that you will know and experience full health and abundant life within your body and all the benefits of being attached to His body.



  1. Dan

    I think sometimes for us men it is not the destination but the journey that motivates us the most - gets our juices flowing. Not that anyone would wish the journey that you and Linda are on on anyone. But I appreciate how you are analyzing where you are, where you have been, and wonder about what is next.

    I like what I have posted on the back of my office door as a constant reminder - Hebrews 11.1 "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."

    No one knows what is next for us - red lights are everywhere and running them can be deadly. We can only be certain that death of our body only brings us to eternity for our spirit.

    As an engineer I also appreciate the "pressure and flow" of your analysis. So many times we go through life knowing that the trees are moving but not understanding what moves them. As Billy Graham says in one of Michael W. Smith's songs - you see the trees moving, but you do not see the wind. Have faith because the wind is there.

    So please keep having the faith.


  2. Wow, i really like how gary discribed the "pressure & flow" of
    your work. like i said before you have a very poetic way of writing and with the flow of your words they make it feel comforting in an odd way for me. i guess that just goes to show you how real Christ is for our body (fellowship)bacause in 2 Corinthians 1:5 it describes "For just as the sufferings of Christ(and i might add, a member of his body; i.e. you) flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. i hope i described it right. to me it is such an encouragement from you to read and take to heart your poetic joy and sufferings much like Paul did for the body of Christ, does that make sense? much love, hope and prayer goes out to you and linda.

    john quain & family

  3. Dr. C,

    Even though your body may be at half it's normal size, your heart is still full and loving. Joe and the kids and I continue to wish and pray for you and your family daily. Your blogs uplift us each time we check to see how you are getting along. The thoughtful, soul-searching way you analyze and explore each new event is truly inspiring.

    Our best always and prayers for continued healing and strength always.

    Stacy, Joe, Kirsti, Kelsi, Gregory, Kati and Justin