Honoring The Body Ways To Practice - Ideas

For it as you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother's
womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

— Psalm 139:13-14

Self Image
Many of us are self-conscious about the size or shape of our own bodies. Write down your feelings as you pay attention to honoring your body. What do you affirm and celebrate? What are sources of bodily shame? What "childhood tapes" do you hear regarding your body image? As you grow older, what are you learning about caring for your body?

Reflect on what kinds of bathing rituals are important to you. What did the bathing patterns of your family of origin teach you about physical intimacy?

A daughter who was dismayed by an outbreak of acne was taught by her father to wash: "On the first splash, say, 'In the name of the Father'; on the second, 'in the name of the Son'; and on the third, 'in the name of the Holy Spirit.' Then look up into the mirror and remember that you are a child of God, full of grace and beauty."

During a child's bath time, sing blessings over each part of the body. Remind children that the body they see in the tub is a body made in God's image.

Baptism welcomes the body along with the spirit into the community of faith. Read or observe your church's baptism liturgy, noticing the reminders it may contain that baptism blesses and cherishes the baptized one as an embodied being.

The newly-baptized may wear white robes to symbolize new life in Christ. Religious orders wear simple garments to bear witness to their vocation. Plain dress (Amish, Old Order Mennonite, and Brethren) can signify a commitment to direct the eyes to God instead of to fashion.

Reflect on what your dress and adornment say to others. What does it say to you?
Rather than allowing fashion industry to dictate what it means to "dress up," encourage people to ready themselves for worship by adorning themselves with a garment or object special to them.

Pick up someone else's hand and look at it closely. Imagine the experiences this hand has had. Think of the work it has done and the care and caresses it has given. Look for signs of age and injury. Pray that God will bless this hand.

Practice therapeutic touch (especially for the ill): stroke the hands and feet, offering a sense of the body as a source of comfort, not of pain alone.

Talk with teenagers about how "honoring the body" can frame our understanding of human sexuality. How does discussing this topic within the framework of a shared practice differ from approaches that are most concerned with warning teenagers about what they should not do?

University of Chicago Professor Tikva Frymer-Kensky has published a book of prayers about menstruation and pregnancy. Drawing on her own Jewish tradition, she links the monthly cycle to spiritual cycles of faith communities, history, and lifetimes. Churches and families can use such prayers to affirm the changes in sexually developing bodies.

New Moon Publishing produces media for girls entering puberty and for adults who want to support girls in developing healthy respect for their bodies.

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