>“…then the LORD God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being. “ — Genesis 2:7
“[The body is] a marvelous machine … a chemical laboratory, a powerhouse. Every movement, voluntary or involuntary, full of secrets and marvels!” — Theodor Herzl
It’s a miracle you and I woke up today. That we opened our eyes, took a deep
breath, planted our feet on the floor and then shuffled off to the coffee maker and another day.
For all those seemingly simple physical acts to happen, our human bodies had to carry out a symphony of thousands of interconnected and complicated impulses. Brain synapses firing off in a millisecond. Blood coursing through veins. Oxygen pulled into the lungs. Muscles contracting then stretching, all to just to get us out of bed.
The human body is a miracle. On average, the human brain has about 100 billion nerve cells and when those nerves fire up, that impulse travels at about 170 miles per hour. The average human heart beats 3,000 million times in a lifetime, pumping 48 million gallons of blood, which travels 60,000 miles on its journey through the body every day. In the last 24 hours, you’ve breathed almost 24,000 times. In and out … in and out.
Consider that our hands can lovingly cradle the most fragile of infants but are
also are capable of pulling the trigger of a gun. The tongue, which for its size is the strongest muscle in the body, can spew forth hateful language or tell someone else, “I love you.”
Elite athletes contort bodies and make spectacular plays, and dancers use muscle and sinew to paint a physical picture of grace and beauty. With just a wink of an eye, we can reassure a nervous child, and in the blink of that same eye, it all can change.
For if bodies are a miracle, bodies are mortal, too. They are physical, and
subject to the laws of nature, which sometime see all these intricately interwoven systems break down, rebel and even fail. Some body changes are natural: creaky joints, graying hair, wrinkling skin. Some body changes are not.
A cough hangs on and won’t go away. A pain appears and grows worse every day. That exertion which once came so easy now causes tightness in our chest.
The very human temptation is to think that these our human shells will just go on forever. They will always work and deliver when we need them to and yet … they doesn’t. We age. We get sick. Disease strikes. A genetic alarm clock finally goes off and suddenly the body we always took for granted begins to let us down. Or worse, we trash our bodies: drink or drug or smoke or overeat.
But God only gives us one human body. There are no guarantees that come with it, no owner’s manual. We can’t return our bodies back to the Creator for a sleeker model or one with less mileage if it doesn’t please us. This is it. So how well are you taking care of the God-given miracle that is your human body this day?
Are you grateful for it? Do you use it for good? Are you merely wearing it out or better yet, are you toning it up so that it hangs on for the very long haul?
Most telling, are our bodies reflections of how much you love our generous God and ourselves?
It is a miracle that you and I awoke this day and with eyes and that can see and a brain that can comprehend, we are now reading this bit of information in the media. Let’s not take this miracle for granted.
The Rev. John F. Hudson is senior pastor of the Pilgrim Church, United Church of Christ, in Sherborn (http://www.pilgrimsherborn.org/)