Earlier this summer I was graced with the opportunity to see New York City twice—first from a distance through the window of a van on the way to Philadelphia, and second in a closer, more intimate kind of way on a weekend visit with Mr. Sweet to see my friend D., newly married.
It was the car trip that got me. You see, on the way down to Philly, we were stuck in traffic, and I had the opportunity to look out and see the new World Trade center building, or Freedom Tower. Struck by the thought that I had never seen the original Twin Towers or the 9/11 site, I decided to let my eyes feast upon this new building, an icon of hope, strength, pride, recovery, and future. I gazed and gazed.
After those minutes beholding the tower, I spent three days growing in knowledge of the theology of the body at the ToB Congress. Over the course of the conference, I came to an understanding of why I might be fascinated with this building—why anyone with seemingly little personal connection to the horrors of 9/11 or any tragedy responds to it closely or intimately without any perceived ‘right’ to.
And it is this: we have lost a part of our body. No, I did not know any of the victims or workers in the WTC on that sunny September day. But I know that I am not just my body, built to give and receive. I am in the body of Christ, and the body of Christ is all His children. Together we give and receive of each other.
Most often, when you lose a part of your body, you know it is gone. You are affected by its absence. If we are to recognize ourselves as the body of Christ, as one part, one member, then we, too, should feel the effect of losing another of ourselves. And the greater the loss, the greater the disaster—the greater the sensation and response.
When tragedy befalls us and we misunderstand the collective emotion, perhaps we are forgetting that we are just experiencing the knowledge written on our hearts from the moment of our creation—part of the body is gone. Today we remember that part of the body we lost. But we should also rejoice in generative power. Though no single human being can regenerate on their own a new limb, it is the miracle of our design that our own body can heal itself—cover the wound with new skin. Thirteen years later, we, the body of Christ has the power to generate more members—through the conception and birth of our children, as well as to stretch ourselves over the chasms that separate us to cover our wounds.
“Now the body is not a single part, but many, If a foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it does not for this reason belong any less to the body ….God has so constructed the body as to give greater honor to a part that is without it, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the parts may have the same concern for one another. If [one] part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy.”