One of our favorite quotations is from Eduardo Galeano's Walking Words:
“The church says: The body is a sin.
Science says: The body is a machine.
Advertising says: The body is a business.
The body says: I am a fiesta."
Jan Phillips, an award-winning photographer, writer, multimedia artist, and national workshop leader, wholeheartedly agrees with the body’s statement above. In this imaginative and user-friendly paperback, she celebrates all the ways this versatile spiritual vessel speaks to us. She wants us to embrace our physical self as a fine companion, a capable mediator of our experience of the world, a vehicle for transformation, and a temple of God. "In the process of divining our bodies, we embody the Divine as the mystics did. We feel the Beloved in every cell, sense the sacred one in every heartbeat, every touch, every image our eyes encounter, every sound our ears behold." Those familiar with the author's previous books (Marry Your Muse: Making a Lasting Commitment to Your Creativity and God Is at Eye Level: Photography as a Healing Art) will be glad to know that she still fills her work with inspiring quotations from spiritual teachers, exercises that are both practical and edifying, and personal vignettes that always hit the spot.
With chapters on feet, legs, hands, back, generative organs, belly, heart, breasts, throat, ears, eyes, and brain, Phillips makes us truly want to treat our bodies with greater respect, reverence, and care. The sacred garment of the flesh carries us through our days, and we must be grateful. Phillips, who suffered severe injuries when she was hit by a car, thanks her back for supporting her in so many endeavors over the years. She salutes the body's ability to dance and to express emotions that are difficult to convey with words. For her, the gift of touch is precious one of the many ways God reaches out to others through us and performs inexplicable wonders.
Phillips quotes a wonderful poem from the Catholic saint Catherine of Siena, translated by Daniel Ladinsky, that speaks to the fad of body makeovers. Another poem is from the Persian mystic Hafiz who truly understood the divining of the body: "When no one is looking and I want to kiss God, I just lift my own hand to my mouth." A friend of ours does this practice regularly and derives a great sense of meaning from it. This wonderful book is the perfect antidote to the physical self-hatred of a culture in which eating disorders and cosmetic surgery are commonplace, and some parents are giving their daughters breast implants as graduation gifts.