Mary Beth Keenan
I Am a Church
What is your favorite church? What type of beautiful sanctuary lifts your soul to the beauty of God? What physical space comes to mind? Is it old or new? Ornate and gilded or simple and natural? Close your eyes for a few moments and really think about it.
One of my favorite churches is the parish I belonged to right after college. It is full of natural light, beautiful stained glass windows, and simple, natural finishings. There is a main aisle of pews; two additional sections sit orthogonal to the altar. As you watch the priest lift the host, you can look other members of the body of Christ in the eye across the sanctuary. It is also the church in which my husband and I married each other, so the memories are just as beautiful as the architecture. God’s spirit is clearly and joyfully at home in that space.
Today’s second reading tells us that we are also homes to the spirit of God: “Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”
Being a temple often brings a physical connotation with it - that our physical bodies are dwelling places for our Lord. Our bodies are good and holy, created by the Creator, and should be treated with respect. We are also called to treat everyone else’s bodies with that same reverence, loving our neighbor as ourselves. We are each living, moving, breathing tabernacles.
It is easier for me to conceptualize my body as a church for God than it is for me to see my mind as a home for our Lord. As someone who journeys with depression and anxiety, the way I talk to myself can be far from kind and merciful. I can have a hard time seeing my worth. If I were to honestly love my neighbor as I love myself on hard days, most people would not want to be my neighbor.
How does the reality of God dwelling in my mind and soul change my outlook on myself?
This verse reminds me that God is with me no matter what. He has made a home in my body, mind, and soul. He has chosen to be here with me and He even is bold enough to call me good and holy. He has willingly taken up residence, right next to the dreariness of depression and relentless thoughts sparked by anxiety. His spirit inhabits my spirit as joyfully as He inhabits that beautiful parish of my early young adult years. Simply as I am today, I am as much of a sanctuary as a physical church building.
Think back to the original question - what is your favorite church? Are you willing to consider your body and mind one of your favorite temples for our Lord?
Mary Beth Keenan is a stay-at-home-mom, artist, and writer. She is passionate about mental health and caring for creation. You can connect with her on Instagram @mb_keenan.15.