I have unofficially studied the body my entire life: from childhood observations of my mother’s midwife visits to rural Amish and Mennonite families to a youthful fascination with the surgical nursing magazines that arrived at our home. Half of my family works mending and caring for bodies. Two of us care primarily for human souls. (There is also one enviably pragmatic MBA, whose daily work I can only imagine is much less messy.)
All that means I am more than familiar with the awkward and occasionally elegant realities of living in these bodies. Emphasis on the awkward, if you ask my two adolescents. But it took burying 68 bodies in 5 ½ years to pitch me headlong into a reckoning with how divine human flesh can be. Not just some of it, but all of it.
Loving What Doesn’t Last is the fruit of that wrestling. While as a pastor I regularly accompany bodies into places others do not, I write primarily as a person who, like any of us, inhabits a body and wonders about its place in the universe. In a style Debbie Blue described as “lyrical” and “profound and a little bit funny at the same time,” I reflect in prose and poetry on particular people and their particular bodies. Holy frailty, of course, comes almost too close to home when it forces me to reckon with my own physiological inheritance with the same honest and earthy reverence for its visible and invisible scars.
Some bodies count in these United States. Some don’t. We know this, even if the truth makes us recoil. It’s as plain as the headlines hand-wringing over insulin prices or the sirens wailing through New York city streets last Spring in the COVID-19 pandemic’s first terrifying waves.
Loving What Doesn’t Last started with a poem written so that one particular body – a 21-year-old victim of the opioid epidemic – might not be forgotten. It has taken nearly ten years to get here. Thanks to Morehouse Press, I can now offer this book to readers with a prayer that we might grow to regard every body as holy.
I can’t wait to hear what you think.