The Soft Animal of Your Body

“Let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.” –Mary Oliver, “Wild Geese”

“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh.” –This guy Paul, formerly Saul, in a letter to people a long time ago


What are we going to do with this mess?

The mess of a tired, old, dying Christian religion that convinced us our bodies are evil, sinful (whatever that means), a problem to be overcome? Stuff that Jesus never said?

The messages of this guy Paul, who chose not to be married, who nearly pulled his hair out trying to get people to believe, who planted a seed in the vulnerable heart of so many that told them their bodies were sinful, shameful, that they should be wracked with guilt to even have one?

We need new lessons, babies. New words.

Because these messages about our bodies haven’t helped us get closer to God. They’ve only made us turn away.

We have people who think that it’s more kosher to see people get killed and mass-murdered on a television screen rather than see a naked body, or two people having loving sex. We have people who think that when we talk about the body, all we are thinking and talking about is sex, and that the only purpose for our bodies is sex. That’s what repression does to you. And so because of these painful, misshapen teachings, we have people watching lots of orgies, masturbating with loads of shame, or confused and unable to connect intimately with another person. We have people who search for the meaning of life through orgasm.

Don’t get me wrong, orgasms are nice. They’re just not the meaning of life. They’re sweet icing on the cake. You have to do a lot of other kinds of work to find actual meaning.

We have men and women sitting in dark corners so depressed, so removed from their bodies, so wracked with guilt and shame, that they consume loads of alcohol or eat lots of salty, sugary things, or use another person for physical ends, just so they can experience a hint of pleasure before going back to being depressed. And most of us are depressed. Or at least asleep.

We have been taught about faith and love and God by people who have said the body is wrong, or people who have never held a naked body close to them, felt the warmth and intimacy of a loving embrace, or who have grasped for it in secret with someone who doesn’t abide.

We have a culture of people who are sick because of this. A culture that has taught we must push through, muscle through, all of life’s travails without feeling anything, and ignore the wisdom of the body, which often tells us the simplest, most divine things: Eat. Kiss. Embrace. Dance. Walk. Rest.

Most of us don’t even know our bodies have wisdom, that our bodies teach us things.

Paul/Saul was never a prophet. He was a politician. And his conversion to becoming a follower of Jesus is no more important than anyone else’s. He was just trying to make sense of the whole thing. He was just trying to organize. And in that process, he said a lot of things in a lot of letters that people now hold as sacred writing, but which is really only a historical document. People forget that there is a huge difference from the teachings of the true prophet, Jesus, and this tired, anxious, sometimes buoyant community organizer who a bunch of men decided should be a prominent figure for centuries to come. And so we have been immersed in a church, and therefore a society, that has told us in order to be “good” people, we must divorce ourselves from our bodies. We must think of our bodies as wrong. Which means we have a ton of people all caught up in our heads. A ton of people who eat too much and too little, who repress sex and obsess over it, and operate from a source of shame and guilt as though it is an inducement to love. We have a world run by the head: ego, domination, confusion, cobwebs, backward thinking.


The New Word, and the New Way, is finding a forward pace through the divine feminine. You do not have to be a woman to do this. We all have feminine energy—we just need to embrace it. We need to learn to practice. Because the feminine form of worship is about the divine body, dancing and moving and birthing like all of great creation. A woman cannot as easily be divorced from her body as a man, and so many current religious traditions have been formed by men. The experience of being a man in a body and a woman in a body is quite different. A woman’s body more readily mimics the phases of nature. There is toiling and wandering and resting and sinking in deep and then giving birth. This happens every month. Every single month. And if she is not giving birth to the old blood and making way for the new, she gives birth to an actual human being. And before that human being emerges from a tunnel that widens and contracts all on its own, without thinking it so, her body feeds that human being on what is often very little nourishment. And when the human being comes to breath-life, she feeds that human being from the milk her body produces that fills up her breasts. And those breasts tingle in connection to that child’s hunger, before even a word is said, before even a cry is uttered.

A woman’s body is a holy temple, a representation of the cycle of life and death found all throughout nature, and it happens again, and again, and again, and again. She cannot escape it. Her body is her body is her body, and no matter what she says or thinks or does, her body will move through these phases, because it is divinely ordained.

So thinking our bodies are anything but divine, anything but a physical mimicry of heaven and earth, is just stupid. So we need to stop with that nonsense, and get into our bodies, and feel them, and listen.

Oh my God, if people knew how to listen to the wisdom of their bodies, and integrated that wisdom with a calm mind and loving heart, would we really be watching impeachment hearings?

I wonder.


“20110211 Bird 003” by Keith Laverack is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Categories: body, love, spirituality and faith

Tags: , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s