Woman leaping on beach full body
Author, on 3/23/23, two weeks shy of her 48th birthday.

Take care of your body as if you were going to live forever;

and take care of your soul as if you were going to die tomorrow.

— Saint Augustine

Two weeks shy of my 48th, I managed a few frisky leaps on the beach. There’s something about Vitamin Sea that does it to me.

But I’m feeling 48 today.

Feeling It In My Body

The keepers of the house aren’t trembling yet and the strong men aren’t terribly bent, although I am down half an inch from where I was at the height of my height.

Still, I notice novel jiggles as I jog, new lines when I smile. For the first time in my life, I got comfy with a chiropractor. To stay limbered up, I’ve taken up that third neglected branch of fitness that in my youth I swore off as “not needed, until I’m old.”

It’s come to it: most days I stretch.

Depending on my place in the increasingly short, gray to “Deeply Brown 40” cycle, a glance in the mirror jars me. I’ve latched on to the Twain quip about how wrinkles show where smiles have been.

I can’t think of a better day to restate my theology of the human body and to ask you for a birthday favor. First, let’s talk about the body.

3 Views of the Human Body

C.S. Lewis described three historic views of the body.

First are the “ascetic pagans,” for whom the body was “the prison or the ‘tomb’ of the soul…a ‘sack of dung,’ food for worms, filthy, shameful, a source of nothing but temptation to bad men and humiliation to good ones.” In our place, at this time, I think few of us these days are so Spartan.

Second are those Lewis calls the “Neo-Pagans.” For them, the body is glorious. This is most of 21st century, First World us. Our health and fitness culture with its Botox and facelifts and hair darkening and teeth whitening worships the body.

Brother Ass Body Theology

Thirdwe have the view which St. Francis expressed by calling his body ‘Brother Ass.’

All three may be- I am not sure- defensible; but give my St. Francis for my money. Ass is exquisitely right because no one in his senses can either revere or hate a donkey. It is a useful, sturdy, lazy, obstinate, patient, lovable and infuriating beast; deserving now the stick and now a carrot; both pathetically and absurdly beautiful. So the body.  

C.S. Lewis, THE FOUR LOVES, p. 93

To my fellow middle-age friends, and my younger and older friends, I propose this third view. Let’s not despise our humble Brother.

Instead, even as he serves us—however lazy, obstinate, and needy for strong coffee, chocolate almonds and good back rubs, for a carrot or stick—let’s remember that our humble, Brother A is where the Holy Spirit dwells.

However useful and beautiful these fading, graying and wasting away earthly bodies become, they are not ultimate.

For we, who are in Christ await a Savior who will transform these humble, failing, Brother A bodies to be like his glorious resurrection body. So leap on the beach if you can, prod the lazy beast if you must.

But be looking up.

We await a Savior who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

Philippians 3:21

Now that brash birthday wish.

My Go-Bold Birthday Request

If you’ve read my meek book, you know that the meek “go bold” willing to “take no.” It feels awkward, which is why I’ve put if off for a decade. Yes, the blog started here ten years ago.

But my new friends at My Writers’ Bloc told me to ask you. I think they are wise.

Ask your readers what they like about your writing. Ask them what you provide that is unique.

Apart from the typos—how is my writing unique? What topics or type of posts interest you? What post encouraged you the most?

I’d like to know how to serve you, my treasured readers, better. My goal is to steward my time, and whatever verbal gifts God has given me, to encourage you. I write for our “progress and joy in the faith” (Philippians 1:25). I want to help you find your strength in our Lord.

But I know I can do that better. I can prod my lazy, selfish Brother A along to write better.

And a birthday carrot from you would be huge.

Every consolation, every hope, every enjoyment we possess, we have received and still retain because of our connection with Jesus Christ our Lord. Apart from him we are naked, and poor, and miserable…everything depends upon him. All our fruit is found in Jesus.

—C.H. Spurgeon, “The Power of Christ Illustrated”

Woman leaping on beach full body
An Irish Brother of mine.

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