8 December 2010


In response to a Community meditation about eucharist as bread of life and contemplative pleasure.

I love the concept of "you are what you eat", thinking of the eucharist as the bread of life. The eucharist quite literally saved my sanity and my faith from the deep dark murky waters of the dark night of the soul many years ago. We are what we eat: we take God in through our physical senses, the taste of the bread (or wafer, or matsos, or whatever you use) and the wine, the smell of beeswax candles and (maybe) incense, holy oil, the feel of water. Each of our sacraments is thoroughly "embodied", completely connected with our physicality. The world God made is shot through with God's loving grace, God's fingerprints are everywhere. Sometimes it even seems to shine from the inside, as though God's light is sneaking through the spaces in the atoms...

I completely believe in contemplative pleasure. For me, it's often in the feel of wind on my skin - the cold, sleety winds of winter laden with horizontal rain, the warm, teasing equinox gales of spring, the soft gentle caress of the summer breeze, the fruity, rustling coloured winds of autumn. It's the feel of cold water in the middle of summer. The smell of baking bread - or baking anything, for that matter! It's the taste of fresh blue cod with pepper and hollandaise sauce. The feel of a raspberry balanced on my tongue, still warm from the canes, and the fresh sharp-sweet taste lingering down my throat.... The softness of my cat's fur as he snuggles up to me. The soft lips of my daughter as she kisses me goodnight. The feel of my husband's arms around me. All of these things are food for contemplation, and fruit of contemplation too.

God made us physical. We experience the world physically. Even in prayer, there is physicality - the sensation of warmth, of being held, sometimes of pressure or of being touched by God's secret hands. And because we're physical, contemplation has to embraced our embodied-ness too. The incarnation. God's body, warmed by the sun, blown on by the wind. Each thing to be given thanks for. Each human pleasure a reflection of the pleasure God takes in us.

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