Thursday, January 17, 2013

Doubting Thomas Body Suit

A couple months ago I had one of the most intimate honors of being a pastor:  I was present with elderly woman as she passed away in her sleep after a long life lived well.  As I sat with the woman, I noticed that in death there is no vanity, no pretense of false youth.  The wrinkles and white hairs that during life had been objects of embarrassment, in death became trophies, became signs of challenges overcome, laughs fully felt, and tears honestly shed. 
I could not help but think of the Apostle Thomas, who when told of Jesus' Resurrection, said, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe." Because of this he is known as Doubting Thomas. But it seems to me Thomas is not doubting that Jesus has come back from the dead, he is doubting whether this resurrected Jesus means anything.  Thomas needs to know that the person who Jesus was, including the suffering that he experienced, is still the same, even if he has transcended that suffering and overcome death.  But as I looked at the woman who died, I couldn't help but wonder if, in addition to his wounds, if the resurrected Christ also carried crows-feet from belly laughs, liver damage from too much wine at the wedding at Cana, and cataracts from the light of the sun reflected off the Sea of Galilee. 
So for Performance Anxiety, I asked my friend Ventiko to wear a body suit.   
Then I invited people in the crowd to roll a pair of giant foam dice.  Depending on the number they rolled, they were to decorate a part of Ventiko's body with yarn, paint, glitter, puffy paint, feather, and puff balls. 
Participants manifested the scars (good, bad, and fully both) that a person might carry within as reminders of the life they lived and markers of who they are.
But perhaps we don't have to wait until death to take pride in the marks that show our body to no longer be young.  Perhaps even now we can run our fingers along the ridges on our skin from crashed bikes, the dark spots from playing in the sun, the divots from acne popped as anxious teens, and wear them with pride as medals earned in the service of a life fully lived.  

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