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. ❤


The Body Electric

The Body Electric: Day Seventeen

Tonight, I realize that something has changed between me and the guy I love.

I’m at a holiday party when I notice it:  in a crowded room full of chatter and hum.  I’m making my rounds — a slow circuit from one little knot of friends to the next — when I look up just briefly and catch T’s eye across the room. 

He flashes me a smile.


When I was newly married, some nine years ago, things were different.  

If T and I went to a party, we’d spend most of the time arm in arm.  I’d stand close to his shoulder and wait to be introduced to his friends.  We moved through a crowd eternally linked.

These days, when the two of us enter a roomful of people, we almost immediately part ways, our circuits widening.  Every so often, we’ll exchange glances, though…

A brief touch on the soft place at the inside of the elbow.

My arm threading under his for just a second as we meet at the middle of a room…

And then away from each other again.


It’s funny, but if you were to watch us from afar, it might look like we’re less connected to each other than we were a decade ago, but that’s not true.  If anything, it’s the opposite: I feel T with me all the time now … His thoughts in my head, even.

It’s almost as, in our younger days, we needed the bridge of our bodies to communicate.

And now we’ve managed to build something a little freer than that — gone wireless, so to speak — the soul gently expanding beyond the limits of the skin… 

Does this seem like nonsense to you?

Maybe it does to me, a little bit.  But I also know it’s just true…  

And it’s good. ❤


September 2015

The Body Electric

The Body Electric: Day Sixteen

This evening, I asked T if he would take a few simple, spontaneous photographs with me …

Not all of us, of course.  Just our hands:


And at first, I think he felt like the whole thing was a little strange… 

But then this happened:





Sometimes, the photos say it all. ❤

The Body Electric

The Body Electric: Day Fifteen


The thought comes to me yesterday while I am sitting quietly in the hairdresser’s chair, listening to the wet locks fall against the mat below me: those frayed ends have been around for awhile.

They’ve seen things I’d like to forget, and they’ve also stuck with me long enough to watch me build a better version of myself.

(I’m still working on that … and always will be).

Meanwhile, new hair is growing:  soft little baby wisps that frame my face, reminding me that, cell by cell and bone by bone, the body has a way of beginning again:

My skin cells slough off and are replaced every four weeks.

My taste buds are renewed every ten days.

Six years from now?  I’ll have an all-new head of hair.

Ten years and I’ll have a totally new skeleton.


Oh, friend … Maybe our bodies are telling us something.