Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” – 1 Corinthians 12:21 (NRSV) 

Actually, the eye can say to the hand, “I have no need of you.” The eye can discern texture without the hand, after all, and the hand can learn tactile navigation without the eye. The head and feet can likewise disregard one another. The feet can carry the head from place to place even when the head’s thoughts are wandering in the clouds, and the head can imagine new methods of mobility if the use of feet is lost.  

Our bodies, senses, and neuropathways adapt as we live and learn. Our relationships adapt too—Paul’s wisdom notwithstanding.  

Sometimes the toe says to the eye, “I have no need of you,” not because the toe doesn’t need the eye but because the toe is tired of being stubbed hard whenever the eye isn’t paying attention. And sometimes the heel says to the hip, “I have no need of you,” not because the heel is self-sufficiently able to hold the whole body but because the heel has lost trust in the hip’s willingness to show up when it’s time to carry the weight. 

Few of us are so arrogant as to believe it’s possible to go it alone in life. But when we are stubbed or bruised, weighed down or disregarded too many times by other members of the body, we can easily hide behind that defensive declaration: “I have no need of you.” 

The ear says “I have no need of you” to the knee, the thumb says it to the heel, you say it to me, we say it them … until the whole body is bruised and bleeding. 

Yes, it’s possible to function apart, just as it’s possible to dysfunction together. But I cannot claim to be in the Spirit while dismissing you, and you cannot swear to be in the Spirit while giving up on me. 

Prayer: God have mercy, I can be quite a heel. 

 cross-posted with the Daily Devotional


O Wisdom, how diverse are your works! In the great sea alone, there are countless creeping critters and all sizes of living things! Humans build ships to cross it, but you form Leviathan to play in it. – Psalm 104:24-26 (adapted) 

I’m sitting at the end of a long bench in the food court, buzzer in hand as I wait for my order. The bench borders three sides of an informal stage – a raised platform where local art shows are staged and amateur bands perform.  

For now, the stage is empty and the food court is noisy with people. A little girl in a pink tutu skips up the stage stairs and climbs onto the far side of the bench, which she walks like a balance beam – one foot in front of the other – until she nears the side of the bench where I’m sitting. 

Three feet away from me, she stops. She stares not at me but at the space I’m occupying. 

“Do you need me to move?” 

She nods. I stand up, and she completes her balancing routine, taking a triumphant leap off the end of the bench. I sit back down as she scampers into the food court. 

Two minutes later, she returns to skip around the bench. When she reaches me this time, I stand up automatically, grinning. Again she jumps off the end. Again I sit down. Again she returns.  

I marvel that we adults choose seriousness more often than playfulness. We study ourselves seriously: what’s my Enneagram number, what’s my purpose in life? We study creation seriously, how to save it or how to monetize it. (I daresay we study one another that way too, too often.) We take a similarly serious approach to faith: what can be saved, what can be used, what needs to be cast off? 

Meanwhile, Leviathan spins and splashes and plays in the vast sea of God’s creation, and God in her pink tutu makes a playground out of a food court. 

Prayer: Jump and play around me, O Spirit, until I am provoked to join you in joy. 

cross-posted with the Daily Devotional

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