Bedtime theology with the 8 and 6 yo....
(After discussing Sunday's gospel reading from Luke 11 about prayer)
Me: So remember when I said we can pray to God about anything? And if you can't think of something you can start with “help,” “thanks” or “wow.” (Credit to author Anne Lamott for this phrase)
8 yo: Okay, I got this. Thank you God for mom, dad, brothers, our house, our kitchen table, our kitchen chairs, the couch, the other couch, the TV, mom's desk, dad's desk, mom and dad's bed, mom's nightstand, my dresser, my bed, our bookshelf...
Me: (Interrupting) Okay buddy I think you've got it covered.
8 yo: No, I forgot the bathroom! Thank you for the sink, the bathtub, the toilet, that thing that sucks out the stuck poop....
Me: The toilet plunger?
8 yo: Yeah! Thank you God for the toilet plunger!
Me: I think we're done here.
6 yo: No, wait! Thank God for that truck that comes and sucks all the poop out of the tank!
8 yo: Yeah! Thank you God for how they put that hose in and it sucks up aaaaaaallll the poop and it goes into a big cylinder truck and...
Me: Let's wrap this up, honey. I think God knows how the septic system works.
8 yo: I am just reminding him.
Lest the reader think my children have only serious and reverent religious insights, I present this gem.
We're definitely in the "talk and laugh about poop constantly" phase at my house (help! when does this end?!) I know it's not just my kids. We camped with friends recently and one of their children invited mine to join the "burping explorers club," to which you could gain entry by burping the ABCs. My children eagerly passed the test.
Body parts, body noises and even bodily fluids are of high interest to my kids and an endless source of amusement to them. I tire of it sometimes, and we rein it in as needed, but bodies are such an important part of the journey of faith, that I don't want to totally squelch their openness and comfort level with discussing the bodies that God made for them. (No fart jokes at the table, though!)
Bodies have a complicated history in the Christian faith, even though the son of God chose to have one. So many Christians, particularly young women, ingested the messages that bodies were sinful and shameful, with urges to be squelched and expressions to be denied. Young girls receive plenty of other messages about what their bodies ought to look like and how to present them for the pleasure of others, not themselves. As a high school athlete, I managed to avoid much of this self-loathing, although I was probably 25 years old before I finally decided that my thighs looked okay and I wasn't actually that fat (I was maybe 120 pounds then, 5' 6").
Cultural movements -- and even advertisers -- seem to be highlighting more of a range of bodies now than when I was a young girl. You can find variety of skin tones, ethnicities, body shapes and abilities in magazine ads, or pop ups on Facebook. All of these bodies, and the ones still underrepresented or absent, are all made by God, loved by God, and called good, by God. Jesus used his body to eat, drink, embrace, walk and dance. He gave his body away, at the end, but then brought it back, solid enough to touch, because those early disciples needed to see and touch a real body, scars and all. That body had been through a lot, but it had a purpose. That body was loved by God and used to show love in the world. I guess our bodies aren't that much different, in that way.
Even though I'm a little tired of poop jokes, I'm glad my children can bring their whole selves, warts and all, to prayer. I've told my children that they can talk to God about anything, and they do keep stretching my imagination. Maybe it's a good reminder to me. We can talk to God about anything that's going on with our hearts, minds, souls or bodies. God welcomes us as we are, with our whole selves, with our whole bodies, poop jokes and all.