So, what does perfection look like? The dictionary defines it, in part, as the full growth or development of anything, or a completed state. So beyond all the traditional trappings…I ask this question, “Given that God is perfect what does God look like? Avoiding the easy traps of artists portrayals, I start with the old testament when God was always shrouded somehow, because to look upon God physically meant certain death. The metaphor that came to me as I was struggling to find something completely unique, was that of God as a flasher–God revealing the deeper realities of life, for God’s pleasure, and our limited ability to see God in full glory. NOW WAIT INTERNET, DO NOT FREAK OUT, KEEP WITH ME FOR JUST A MINUTE! I have waited for enough time after writing this draft to validate that I have not caught on fire, I have not turned to stone and my head hasn’t turned all the way around once…so just bare with me, if God’s OK with it, so should you. First of all, the reason I use the flasher image is that God has been clothed in so many different layers over the centuries, it’s about time to challenge many of these historical notions. So when all the layers are stripped away, what do we have left? I don’t have that answer yet, but and this is a big one, BUT I certainly had to ask this question first? Am I willing to see God naked?
Culturally, nakedness is far more associated with sexuality and porn than personal knowledge and perfection. The kind of exposure from someone who reveals themselves out of pleasure without being asked to do so is not only uncomfortable, many times it is a criminal offense. Perhaps it is our discomfort and limited capacity for understanding perfection that God chooses to show us only so much at a time. It can be more than a little daunting to entertain the possibility that many of the fundamental assumptions we have about God are really ill-fitting costumes that not only hide, but distort God’s very essence. I say this, in part, because if we were so clear about God’s true nature, wouldn’t our world be in a much better place? So let’s go back to before being naked was an indecent thing.
According to the book of Genesis, when Eve, then Adam ate from the tree of knowledge, bringing sin into paradise, they recognized their nakedness, tried to cover themselves up and hid from God. Note that being naked was a good thing until they sinned and they began to see themselves differently as a result. It certainly doesn’t imply that being naked was intrinsically a bad thing does it? We are created in God’s image, after all…free of any wardrobe malfunctions. Isn’t it more likely that the need to cover ourselves up as a result of recognizing our imperfection naturally flows to why we try to cover up God as well; we don’t want the constant reminder of how imperfect we really are. History certainly says so, for Christians anyway, look how humanity treated Jesus. If we are truly created in the image of God, and by our own choice moved away from that image, it seems to make sense that in order to discover God’s true nature we deal with our own nakedness…and the neurosis that comes with it first.
Looking at my own naked flesh is mixed with many different emotions. At my age it is impossible avoid gravity, period. I will never resemble those beautiful women in the magazines, and I guess I’m OK with that, but sadly, though, I never thought my body would ever resemble one of those prehistoric fertility goddess figurines comprised of sagging breasts and a marsupial like stomach either…and while spanks work miracles, they do have to come off some time. But at the same time, this body of mine has survived breaks, falls, injuries, childbirth, dancing, and the many things I have done for God…all that comes with living life. Our bodies are the empirical evidence of all that we have seen and experienced. So why is it that we worship bodies that bear no reflection of the greater lessons in life? Isn’t it true that most supermodels hit their peak before the reach the age of majority? Why focus on a blank canvas, or a body free of experience? I truly believe that God’s true nature is probably closer to the reflection most people see of themselves in the mirror–a body worn with experience. Let’s go back to the definition of perfection…the full growth or development of anything, a completed state. A life lived fully, should be seen as closer to being perfect than running away from it through growth hormones, plastic surgery or the other myriad of ways we try to look younger. I’m not saying that we allow ourselves to waste away, our bodies are temples after all…but the obsession with youth has to stop, especially since it sends an unfair message to young people that their bodies are the standard to which all perfection should be measured. Would I go back to the perky body I used to have? Ah, now therein lies the rub…the temptation would be great, but seriously no, I would not. I think I would focus on all the wrong things. As much as I struggle with aging, it is a natural part of coming to completion…and it is up to me, with the help of God to figure out how to wrap my head around it. Perhaps, it will mean for me that I am one step closer to seeing God.