As long as I can remember, I have desired to have the body of a little boy…thin, lanky, hard-edged, muscular, straight. I have no idea when this notion implanted itself upon my conscience, but as a young girl, I felt too curvy, too feminine. It may have been the “style” of the day and Lord knows, we were in the age of discontent when it came to womanly form.
As my back issues have progressed, exercise has been set aside: running, Pilates, spin. While grateful for the break, having more time and energy to focus on the Holiday season, I have feared losing my edges, of becoming soft. As a not-boylike grown woman, I admit the temptation is still present, to long for the lean, athletic model physique. Fortunately, and I say this honestly, I have not the desire to go the lengths required. More frequently, I am practicing kindness…embracing, upholding and appreciating my created form, recognizing the opportunity my health and strength afford.
With Advent upon us and all occurring around our nation and world, it is easy to draw parallels between our modern times and those in which Jesus arrived as an infant. The society was harsh…oppression, pain, hunger, injustice. The culture hard, lined, furrowed, people desperate for relief and hope. He, as a toddler, hunted by the authorities. Yet when He entered our world, He came in through softness, through humility, through simplicity. The stable reeking; the night cold; father afraid, but trusting; Mary pondering, body providing sustenance for her new precious Life. Who got the first word of the Messiah’s arrival? Shepherds. Worn, tired, grimy, less-than.
Softness, of body and spirit, provides a delicate place to land..of safety, security, and grace. To be soft is to yield, to allow for displacement. When my babies arrived I had brief moments of relishing my soft. Breasts created to nourish, belly providing a nest for the new life, arms and shoulders supple to rock. Emotions at the ready to process joy and grief, fear and awe…all simultaneous.
I am learning what it means to appreciate softness, in body and mind, tears ever present. I want to be that place to land…a place of not issuing judgment or decree, but a listening ear. To see the world around and grieve for what should be, that which God created, yet is not. I pray this Advent that we may experience the both/and, as Glennon Melton says, the Brutiful…the brutal and the beautiful. This world has enough hard edges, and harsh stares. Let us be softness and kindness and grace to all we encounter. Let us give generously and mercifully in all aspects of our lives. Let us seek first to understand another, rather than make assumptions. Let us be open in the moments of loneliness and lack to seek the generous voice of the Holy Spirit, the One who longs to demonstrate His Love and reveal His Presence to us. We are deeply loved and cherished, let us remember the One who came, to bring life abundant, to feed the hungry and satisfy our souls.