Love Ourselves, Love Our Bodies: Benjamin D. Perkins

Today’s reflection on body image and health was written by Benjamin D. Perkins

My Body & Advent: A Reflection

I’ve really only recently paid attention to my body. Perhaps it’s because I’m getting older and cannot take it for granted. Perhaps it’s because as a gay man I’m aware that the currency it carries is diminishing in some circles. Or perhaps it’s because both of my parents died relatively young, their bodies failing them–in one case, quickly, the other, slowly–and I am inching ever closer to the ages they were when they died.

After a lifetime of being fairly sedentary, I recently became a runner. At best it’s a love-hate relationship, oftentimes more one than the other, but I can say honestly that the experience has been transformative. The ability to go distances I never dreamed I could travel has given me confidence in my capacity to persevere, and I love the way I look running… sometimes.

What I’ve also come to understand on my journey is that my body has value and meaning, and that I owe it respect. I know that food, exercise, and meditation are essential to my well-being-—these aren’t luxuries. My ancestors’ blood flows through my veins, and I honor them and my Creator when I respect my body.

As a someone who is in the process of becoming an ordained minister, I cannot help but also be reminded of the centrality of the body-—intellect has its place, but when the mind takes motion, it is the body that shapes and molds. And it is only then, as we say in the Christian tradition, that words become flesh.

I believe that we are all made in our Creator’s image, and a big part of that image is what I do with my body, which is why I really love the name “Body Image 4 Justice”! For it reminds me that one purpose of my image is to be about the business of creating justice in the world, and that’s a wonderful thing to ponder this Advent Season.

Amen.

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