Nothing influences my mood more than the weather. On a gloomy day I can barely open my eyes. When October rolls around with its early dusks I am cloaked in sadness. When summertime is here and the days are long I feel satisfied. This is normal, I suppose.
This weekend I went running on an unseasonably warm morning and enjoyed the sun on my face for an hour or so. By the time I was done I felt like I could conquer the world. Everything was sun-filled happiness. Even the things that had me sobbing and depressed earlier in the week were nothing to me! I realized this as I wrapped up my run, and because my mood was optimistic I didn’t really mind that it was all caused by something out of my control.
During the long fall and winter I am a little less sanguine about my connection to nature. Winter’s lethargy feels like weakness, and my morose pensiveness becomes obnoxious even to me. I should be able to put mind over matter, I tell myself.
I reflected on that voice this weekend, when my mind was all jazzed up on matter and I was ready to wrap my arms around the whole happy world. The truth is, I don’t think I want to put mind over matter.
We weren’t enfleshed by accident. This isn’t some mean joke or some waiting period until we get to the good stuff. This is the good stuff, and there’s more good waiting for us beyond. This should be harder and harder for me to proclaim, as it has felt in recent months like my body is falling apart. But learning the ins and outs of my body has made me love it even more, realizing how precious it is and how grace-filled.
So too the created world. In the very beginning of “in the beginning”, God came up with the first recorded catch-phrase: “And it was good”. I’m with God on this one. It is so, so good and so good that we can taste and touch and see and smell and feel it, that we can be in it with others, embodied and loved into being and proclaimed just as good as the moon and the stars.
God was not enfleshed by accident. In case we couldn’t figure it out from Genesis, the Incarnation of Christ tells us that our created world is sanctified. When at the end of his life Jesus took simple bread and wine and announced they would become him, he made holy the simplest fruits of the earth. That same earth and the rest of Creation are what make me happy and sad, what make my body work, what feeds and sustains the people I love in their messy, enfleshed grandeur.
I should want to be in control of all of this, to put my mind over matter, but I don’t anymore. Instead, I see in it one more example of the Paradox that runs the universe, the one that says weakness is strength, and that in giving we receive. Because only a God who became like us in silly, broken body could come up with this: our fragile flesh is sign of Love, is earthly glory.