“Open-eyed, loving bones…with nothing hidden…how we will sail.”
-Courtland Patrick Quinn
Maybe when you feel a child move through your body, the wisdom of your bones becomes inescapable. Or maybe when you suffer deep loss, the gratitude you feel for the bones that carried your loved one for the time you had him overwhelms you. In a society that tends to see bones, skeletons, skulls rather morbid, I have found myself developing a deep admiration for that that is gut-wrenchingly human.
For a long time I was taught being close to God meant separating myself from my bones, separating myself from my human nature, cleansing my soul of all that was not pristine and angelic. I grew up surrounded by a culture that taught me that my bones were bad; my human nature sinful. And the way to God was fleeing my humanity and praying for forgiveness along the way.
Ten years ago, I found myself with a honest heart, years of loving and serving others, years of praying for forgiveness, seeking God in everything I was told contained God, years of combing through my motives, intentions, thoughts, feelings with a fine tooth comb for specks of sin.
I was hollow, I was sick, I was sad.
I prayed that there was more.
God entered….and began to knit my spirit back into my bones.
I began to view my bones differently. They weren’t evil…they were grounding, honest, present…lovely. I found my human nature simply the avenue for vulnerability. Vulnerability, necessary for intimacy with myself, others, God.
Does the vulnerability of my human nature create opportunities to harm others and not honor this gift of life I have been given? Sure. But my spirit isn’t blameless either.
You see, my spirit, if left to its own devices, will get caught up in perfection of soul which creates an obsession with right and wrong and consequently finds itself in chronic judgement. This leads to an arrogant hatred towards all that is human in me and all that is human in others. And “tolerating” replaces “loving” in my interactions with myself and those around me. And this is what I believe truly separates me from God. I believe God is love.
This separation from God leaves my soul in a desperate place. Which causes the need to feel more powerful, to be right, to cope, to escape, to perfect. Feelings that are the catalyst of any “sinful” behaviors I was trying rid myself of in the first place.
I am convinced that the separation of human nature and spirit causes more “sin” than human nature does on its own. Our spirit and our human nature were meant to be in divine balance that allows us to love, heal, create, and connect to God. I believe we were meant to revel in our bones, not escape them. When my human nature is not exiled from relationship with my spirit, my spirit is free, genuine, true. It is able to seek and truly connect to God.
It is impossible to truly connect with another being without connection to our bones.
It is impossible to be truly alive without a relationship to our bones.
It is impossible to be truly honest and humble without reverence for our bones.
It is impossible to be in awe and wonder of God without existing in our bones.
It is impossible to be truly grateful of this moment without awareness of our bones
It is impossible for our spirit to soar without grounding in our bones.
For ten years now I have been trying to return to the way I was before all the humanity got baptized out of me. Attempting to create the same reverence for this vulnerable human nature that I have for my seeking spirit. To be alive and thankful, rather than pristine and blameless. To connect my bones and spirit within me so that spiritual arrogance or human vulnerability do not cause harm to myself or others or disconnect me from God. I can’t say that I am any closer to having THE answers. I don’t know what form God is in. I don’t know what happens when we die. I don’t know for sure why we are here. And maybe to some that appears as a lack of faith. But for me, those unanswered questions are what creates my faith.
On my 33rd birthday, I found myself in a river, holding my child, fully in my bones and after 33 years……. my spirit soared effortlessly.
(in deep gratitude to a God who taught me my bones are lovely)