And I remember, distinctly, what I was wearing each time. And I know it doesn’t matter.
To the man who touched me while shopping in Roth’s.
To the man who leered, and commented, loudly, in Lowe’s.
To the man who stalked me across Walmart, until a stranger warned me what was happening.
To the man who smacked me with a grocery sack, inappropriately, near Powell’s.
To the man who wouldn’t leave me alone in Safeway.
To the man who was too close, for too long, in an abandoned diaper aisle in Winco at 10 p.m.
And to the coworker, who asked another coworker if he thought I was hot, right in front of me.
This is not gonna fly.
My body was not made for you.
My body was made for running—hard—at street hockey, until blood pumps in my ears, sweat drenches me, and I pulse—giddy—freed from my appearance “standards.” When my lowly insecurities don’t even register. They don’t even exist. They are simply not. And I am simply am. My body no longer an incomplete vessel to be tweaked and prodded and disguised, but whole.
These times—these precious, encouraging times—when I simply relish what my body can DO and has already DONE.
They are, sadly, few and far.
But I know the truth.
And it will, indeed, set me free.
I was not made for my body.
My body was made for me.
My body was made for wearing my son on my back as I climb Mary’s Peak, on a clear day, only to hear him say, “I see my mountains,” and feel my heart swell, the Cascades in the distance.
My body was made for holding my daughter close, in her cradleboard, in a field, at sunset, as elk bugle in the distance.
My body was made to give birth, with and without medication, and marvel as my skin expands, and contracts, and expands again.
My body was made for nursing my babies, feeding them the best way I know how, while their tiny hands hold my finger and they fall asleep in the safe and quiet.
My body was made to laugh—hard—with my coworkers, until my face and throat ache.
My body was made for my children to climb on, both at once, as we giggle together on the bed.
My body was made for art. For sewing. For writing. For thinking.
My body is for singing and for swaying.
My body is for kneeling down in praise, beside the trail, overcome by the glory of Glacier National Park.
My body is for walking barefoot through a grove of Sequoias—because what are those tall trees, if not holy?
My body is for lying down, deep on the floor of Death Valley, in heavy July heat, because I can—and because I wonder what it will feel like.
My body is for hiking Grand Canyon. Bryce. Zion. Arches. Joshua Tree. Kings Canyon. Mesa Verde. White Sands. The Guadalupe Mountains. The Rocky Mountains. And the glorious Organ Mountains.
My body is for spelunking deep into Carlsbad Caverns, to the Hall of the White Giant, to experience a total, utter black, when I turn off my lamp.
My body is for trekking across Europe. For hiking Cinque Terre with a backpack and naivety. For visiting art I had only seen in textbooks.
My body is for strolling up a random hill in Switzerland, only to discover it includes the Stations of the Cross, and turns my mind toward grace.
My body is for sipping espresso in Italy, and tasting the best salami of my life.
My body is for savoring French baguettes. And pain au chocolat. And Swiss muesli. And Polish pierogis.
My body is for visiting Auschwitz, as a living sacrifice, to remember—and serve witness.
My body is for standing in Minidoka, a Japanese Internment Camp, because this can’t happen again. (Serve witness.)
My body is for mourning.
My body is for praying, while rocking on my knees.
My body is for meditating, alone in a lunchroom, slipping transcendent a few steps from my desk.
My body is for lighting a candle in a Belgic cathedral, for my grandma.
My body is for attending a service in Notre Dame, to see incense rise toward Heaven, backlit by sun streaking through stained glass.
My body is for worship, for lying prostrate.
My body is for being baptized, plunged into water, and drawn back out, a symbol of rebirth, of hope beyond fear.
My body is for dying to itself, daily, and running, grasping toward Christ, daily.
My body is for holy covenant.
My body is for being one with my husband.
My body is for wonder. For gazing at Saguaro cacti. Yuccas. The Milky Way. For watching the moon rise and the sun set at the exact same time, 180 degrees apart, in Arizona’s Sonoran Desert.
My body is for hearing coyotes howl in the hills, as I sleep beneath a Joshua Tree, only a tent between.
My body is for hugging my dog, rubbing my face in her neck.
My body is for watching the sunset soak and slink into the Yakima Valley, from high above on Horse Heaven Hills, before I leave for college.
My body is for picking a desert rose, growing wild in Death Valley, beyond all chance or expectation, and seeing my childhood self within its blooms.
My body is my mind. My education. My talents. Wild and free.
My body carries my essence, as I walk on this Earth. My soul, who is only here for a short while. The holy flame of Imago Dei, which we all carry, a torch, simmering.
And I will live on beyond my body. Beyond my circumstances. Beyond whatever may come.
My body is my being, one continuous line, stretching through time, toward eternity, unaltered by circumstances, unfettered by events.
The physical will only waste away, unneeded. Unheeded.
We will go beyond.
We are already there.
Emily Sweet, Editor-
Emily Sweet is a writer and artist living in Oregon with her husband and two children. She loves her job at the Pacific Northwest’s premier film lab, PhotoVision, and has become smitten with medium format film.