The Body Electric

The Body Electric: Day Twenty-Nine


We run in the dark:

Just me and T, our feet slapping the wet pavement.

We run through quiet streets still aglow with holiday lights.  Bright orbs as big as pumpkins bob from the trees — a neighborhood tradition — and as they sway gently in the six-o’clock dark, their reflections shimmer in the puddles.

And my body hurts, but suddenly it occurs to me that I feel completely and totally alive.


It seems fitting, to be writing about running today.  When I first began this little series, some twenty-nine days ago, I was writing about running, then, too.  And now, the circle is beginning to close.

And I’m tired.

As I round the last bend toward the hill I call home, I’m tired.

I’m tired of December and its rush of parties and events and food and drink.

I’m tired of writing.

And running.

And a lot of other things too big to put into such a small post.

But this is the kind of exhaustion that feels good, somehow, if only because it proves, in its way, that I’m living.

And I don’t question the feeling.


I slow to a walk as I make my way up the hill to my house.  In the waterglimmer, the little bicycle-spoke lights I’ve laced into my running shoes glow in the dark:

Left foot blue.

Right foot red.





My footsteps are slow now.  My hair is a mess, my breaths ragged, but that’s okay.  I accept the messiness as something beautiful in and of itself.  

I accept the tiredness as something beautiful, in and of itself.

I accept my aging body as something beautiful, in and of itself.

I accept … myself.


I go home and I take a hot shower.

In my little writing room, I sit down and write a messy blog post, and I accept that messiness, too.

I unlace the bicycle-spoke lights from my sneakers and switch them on in my palm.

Their glow is so small, but still:  I’m switching on lights in the dark…

And for today, that’s enough. ❤


The Body Electric

The Body Electric: Day Twenty-Eight


You might have noticed something important missing from this post.

Go ahead:  look again…  

Not a single photograph in sight.

And there’s a reason for that, because yesterday, I switched off my eyes for a little while, and I just listened.

I curled up in a chair in my living room, and I watched as a friend’s hands tore up and down the black-and-white staircase of his keyboard, which he’d rigged up on the coffee table in front of him.

Last week, he’d asked if I might be interested in laying a few lyrics on top of some of his original compositions, and I said yes.  Yes, of course I might be interested.  (Was he kidding??).

And so, twenty-four-hours ago, I sat spellbound as music filled the house.

Notes raced up the staircase.

Ran riot through the second story.

And I’ll confess:  even with all that magic unfolding right in front of me, at first it was difficult not to watch…  Not to notice the way the light spilled across the keys.  The way the shadows hunched close behind him, as if they, too, were listening.

But after awhile, I closed my eyes.

I let the music erase all the shadow and light, the saturated black-and-white.

Let the notes open up one color after the next:

Like a garden,
opening petals


to a sun
you cannot see…

which shines just the same. 

The Body Electric

The Body Electric: Day Twenty-Seven



I’m home — safe and warm, after all my travels.  Rain patters softly on the roof.

I think back to the time I spent with family over the past few days, and to the way I gave my body permission to enjoy this holiday fully and completely:

I stood over a wide Wolf range, stirring and breathing in steam.

I sat at a long polished table with eight of my little tribe, and I ate.

I walked down from the house to the river.  Ambled along the water’s edge on Christmas morning, when a fog lay over the world like a white blanket –the opposite shore swallowed completely by cloud.

I curled up on the sofa with my three-year-old nephew, J.  Let him tuck his head under my chin.

I held my newest nephew, N, for the very first time.  Felt him go heavy and slack in my arms, his head lolling back to my shoulder in sleep.

And at church, on Christmas Eve, I stood in the crowd and sang Silent Night with one hand cupped around the golden glow of a little candle.  I took in the scatter of light across stained glass — the thousand voices melding — for the briefest moment — into one…

And I was grateful.

Not just for my spirit — the part of me for which the holiday was made — but for my body, which gives me a dozen other ways to experience the magic of it:  

In flesh and in bone.  

In star-dazzled eyes.  

Ears open to song.  

Lungs breathing in the scent of winter greenery.  

Hands laced into other hands.

Warmth on my skin, and in my heart.


And this — all of this — is good. ❤

The Body Electric

The Body Electric: Day Twenty-Two {A Christmas Eclipse}


When I first began my little thirty-day series, my hope was to post every day for 30 days about the joy of living fully in the body.

Turns out, though, that I’ll be spending the next four or five days celebrating in T’s family home on Potomac Creek, where the internet connection is spotty at best.  And that means you won’t be hearing from me for a little while.

But my project will still be continuing in the dark, so to speak, the way the sun still shines behind the moon.  And we call that an eclipse:  a brief little time when we stand in the black and marvel at that brilliant ring of light, while we wait for the sun to appear again.

(Sometimes I’m such a sap … But I think you know what I mean.)

In the meantime?  Please know that, however you’re celebrating this week (or not celebrating) … my heart is with you.

I wish you peace in the midst of the busyness.

I wish you patience in the midst of the drama.

I wish you rest if you’re tired.

I wish you comfort if you’re struggling under a load of holiday loss.

If you need a hug, I hope you ask for one.

If you see someone looking lonely, I hope you reach out.

Most of all:  I hope you go looking for a little light in the dark. 


See you on the other side. ❤


The Body Electric

The Body Electric: Day Twenty-One


Can I say something honest to you?

I grew up in a world that talked a lot about God — a lot — and I’m not always comfortable with the things that world taught me about him.

Tonight, though, as I walk the streets on this darkest night of the year, I stop in front of a plywood manger scene in someone’s front yard.  And I suddenly realize I’m grateful — so, so very grateful — for one thing:

I’m grateful that the God of my childhood was so physical, and so human…

A God in the shape of an infant, thrashing and crying in the straw.

A God who wept actual tears.  Who bruised and bled and broke.

A God who tells me that the divine can, in fact, dwell in this place:

… this hardscrabble earth.

… this fast-fading skin.



I turn my hand over.

I trace the river-blue veins in the wrist.

I think about the spirit that flows through that living water, and I can’t help but say:

 Oh, God … It is good. ❤


The Body Electric

The Body Electric: Day Twenty

Tonight, at the exact moment of the Winter Solstice, I am standing out in my front yard, head craned back, staring at the sky…

I’m looking for magic.

The thing about the solstice is that it comes at the exact same moment for all of us — the instant when the sun crests over Stonehenge and begins the shortest day of the year.

Which means that the day after this one will be a little longer.

And the next day will be a little longer still.

It means that winter just can’t last, and that thought feels pretty magical to me.


Except that tonight, out in the rain-laden midnight, I can’t see any magic.  I have my camera with me, looking for light.  But my sky is moonless, and starless.  All I can see is the dull orange haze of the streetlights reflected back from the bottom of rainclouds.

So I put the camera away for awhile, and I go walking instead.

I take a deep lungful of dark air, and I think about how ordinary this magical moment seems … and suddenly it occurs to me that, in a way, this particular solstice is very much like the Christian Advent.

Because it’s quite possible, isn’t it, that the sun rises half a world away and we don’t see?

That the stars spark behind the rain and we don’t know?

That the very person who spells our salvation could walk into the world, and still … there might be a brief span of time in which we just don’t know it yet??

Instead, there’s just ordinary.

Just dark.


I walk longer, in the black, and I try to take pictures of whatever ordinary beauty I see:  the crisscrossed shadows of tree limbs on the road.  The faint wet gleam on the sidewalks.  And after awhile, I find myself praying.  Because I’ll tell you:  I am no preacher.  And yet if I had to have a little good news to carry, it would be the gospel of ordinary things:

The flash of sun on a dragonfly’s wing.

The slow lap of liquid at the river’s edge.

The early-morning fog bedding down soft and white into hills and hollows.

And oh, God, I am going to keep preaching this ordinary gospel — even if nobody really listens — in hopes that my tiny good news might be pointing the way to some larger Gospel … the kind that’s much too big to fold up into the cramped container of language.

The kind about how the divine might be contained — and also not contained — in human skin.

Which is what all my words are about, anyway.


I tilt my head.

I take a breath.

I peer into the dark and take a picture:



Happy Winter Solstice, friends.  Though you can’t see for all the shadows, today marks the beginning of the end of the dark.

Let’s celebrate it together. ❤

The Body Electric

The Body Electric: Day Nineteen


Maybe it’s just me, but lately I’ve been feeling like December is just … hard.

I don’t have any real emotional reason to feel that way:  no family drama.  No old holiday loss.  If any thing, I’m happy… But I’m also exhausted.  And I’m not just talking about my usual bouts with insomnia.  I’m talking about soul-level exhaustion that I can feel in my body, right down to the muscle and bone…

Too many parties.

Too much food and wine.

Too much sparkle, too much spending, too many colors, too much noise, too much drivingbuyingrushingwrappingtalkingtalkingtalking.

I don’t know … Maybe it’s just me.  

But I suspect not.  


Earlier this week, though, I tell T I don’t want to plan anything for this night.  We’ve had a double-booked calendar all week, but tonight … tonight I want nothingness.

So, halfway through our Sunday afternoon, we make a second pot of coffee in the Chemex.

And we laze around for hours and read.

We finish wrapping presents.


And I don’t know why, but at some point we dust off our matching ukuleles and decide we’re going to learn “Silent Night.”


It was September when T and I first took lessons.  Back then, I remember how awkward my little ukulele felt against my chest, and how hard and sharp the strings felt, biting into the tips of my fingers.  My hands never seemed to want to curl in the correct shapes.

This evening, though, I teach myself the simple chords, and after a few minutes of practice, everything just feels right:  the curved mahogany against my breastbone.  The gentle happy Hawaiian echo in every strum, reverberating through my skeleton.

As I play, I sing the old carol:  Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright…

And suddenly I feel that silence… That calm.

The room fills up with quiet even as it’s flooded with music.  

The hurry of the holidays falls away.

I feel the music in my body — in the muscle and in the bone – and I feel — for the briefest little moment –what it means to know heavenly peace. ❤