Waiting with family in the surgical waiting room, anxious for word as to the success or failure of my husband’s surgery, I am reminded of what is truly important. We, as selfish, ego driven self centered human beings put so much emphasis on gaining power, prestige, and possessions, when those are simply a means or a barrier to what is truly important: our relationships with each other. Not relationships in the sense of control, pecking orders, status, but the simple day in day out interactions of being with those who enhance and enrich us in so many ways. Relationships, not stuff or power, are what gives life meaning.

Getting all the emails, e-cards, phone calls, having kids break into busy work schedules to drive over 400 miles to be with us, drive me to and from, share food, hugs, prayers, tears, fears, support feels overwhelmingly affirming. How does one find words to express what all that means? How it defines the true meaning of family, friendship, being part of a caring community? We are all so bent on being self-sufficient, detached, protected, productive, secure, our emotional barriers raised so we can’t be hurt, when all we really want is to be loved and accepted for who and what we are. To be included, affirmed, acknowledged.

Sitting by my husband’s bedside I find myself meditating on those Scriptural passages that refer to our bodies as the temple of God. If our bodies truly are the temple of God, why has the church seen the many blessings our bodies give as sinful and profane, flesh as evil? Why is joy and happiness viewed as less spiritual than neurotic self denial, long faces, self hatred, even self flagellation? Isn’t embracing these bodies of ours as the miracle, the temple of the living God they are, one of the greatest acts of worship and praise we can give our maker? After all, we are taught we are created as image and reflection of the divine.

I look at my husband’s aging, unraveling body and marvel at the wonder of him, the 60 years we have shared, cared, disagreed and loved as the gift it has been to me, our children, all with whom he has interacted. Broken, imperfect as he and his body has been, it has been through his body that we have been graced. What a gift these bodies of ours, this miracle of blood, bone, tissue, mind, spirit...all that somehow conveys the essence of divinity, personality, soul. Knowing the time looms ever nearer to losing this man who has shaped my life, I am awed by the dawning awareness that each of us is an amazing incarnation of God, a God of love, light, gratitude, delight.

Joyce Shutt is pastor emeritus of the Fairfield Mennonite Church, author of a 12 step book Steps to Hope, and a blog on Facebook, Steps to Hope @borntoblog.

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