Speaking Flesh

This week Sarah Bessy asked, "What's saving your life today?", and I admit to being stumped by the question.  I am saved, it seems, and then I am saved...

Salvation is a big thing, of course, don't we all know it.  Clouds ripping open, glory streaming, grown men thrown to their knees, head in hands.  Rusty nails are cast through skin, thorns pressed into it.  Crosses are dragged up steep pathways and gravestones are rolled, scraping the hard earth, from their resting place.

I am saved, yes, always saved.  I have been cast to my knees, drunk the wine-as-blood, tasted the wafer-as-flesh. 

But sometimes, even when I've come home with bits of the Eucharist stuck in my teeth, communion fresh on my tongue, I've come home tired and inside out and upside down.  Sometimes I've prayed my lips dry and come up still gasping for air, still looking for peace, still begging for salvation.

These are those days for me.  I am thirsting for salvation, and being asked what saves me only serves to bring to light that I was already asking what's saving my life today.  Because I am looking at the sky and waiting for answers and praying for peace. And I am coming out of it feeling about as transmogrified as a prince turned frog.

It's supposed to be a big thing, salvation. And while I'm waiting on the sky to split open, I'm saved again and again and again by the beautiful minutiae.  The smell of my baby boy, sweet and salty and dirty, a visceral smell of life and earth and youth.  The weight of him on my legs: it holds me down, holds me together.  His body is, like Pinocchio turned real boy, a miraculous bundle of life that's not supposed to work but that defiantly runs and climbs, crouches and stretches long in anticipation.  His every move, every breath, is an elixir that I drink in with gratitude, praising the maker of the genetic code his life shatters.  He tells me no! and I think yes!, remembering how many years I prayed that his mouth would produce speech.  He pushes out of my arms, and I long for the baby who fit between my elbow and my wrist, while simultaneously marveling at the grace with which he climbs from my lap to the floor.

I am saved listening to my oldest son sing, that boyhood soprano that reaches for notes, skims them and misses them, but soars nonetheless.  I am saved by his sudden bursts of affection, his breathtaking mind. 

I am saved by the sight of my dog on our morning run, her steadfast countenance that asks for nothing beyond take me with you and go faster, let's go faster.  Her leaping, twisting joy at the sight of my running shoes, the way she touches my thigh with her nose when we're really going, really in a grove and making good time.  

And I am saved by a cup of coffee on a long morning.  Saved by the feel of my husband's leg draped over mine.  By his voice, I am saved by his voice every time I hear it.

There have been days I have been saved by the spray of juice that erupts from an orange when you peel it, when I have felt baptized in its scent and grateful for its sacrifice.  More times than I can count, I have been saved by playing the same song over and over, singing along with it and crying every time I got to the bridge.  Since childhood, music has saved me and continues to save me. 

I am saved, yes, and then I am saved.  Every day, somehow, I am saved again, just when I start believing there is no reprieve from the fears and doubts and fatigue of day-to-day.  The clouds do not part, but still salvation comes in and purrs against my calf.  And I wonder, if salvation is supposed to be such a big thing, why did it have to come down wrapped in flesh?

If we are supposed to be such ethereal beings, why are we saved again and again by the touch of a lover's hand, by the scent of a baby's neck?  Why does music go through us like a shotgun blast? Why do we eat and drink Christ to remember him?  Why does the smell of cinnamon send us hurtling back to our grandmother's house, circa 7 years old, to watch her serve us cinnamon rolls as crisp as if it happened last week?

I don't have the answers, obviously, but I have a theory.  See, I believe He saves us and also He saves us and saves and saves us.  I believe He speaks flesh because we speak flesh.  I believe we are supposed to learn healing from childhood scrapes, supposed to learn joy from watching a 4 year old eating a popsicle.  I believe sacrificial love is your husband giving you the window seat, and you making eggs the way he likes them.  I believe we are made to dance and drink and kiss.  I believe we are saved when we look for salvation, and that all of it echoes salvation with a capital S.

What's saving my life today?  It's so simple and so small and so close to me today.  Today I am saved by the knowledge that, after seven years of working opposite shifts from my husband, this week marks the first time we will get to actually see each other six days a week.  My heart is a-singing tonight, puffed up on the promise of time with someone who loves me like no one has ever loved me, echoing the words of Brandi Carlile:
How I miss you,
And I just want to kiss you,
And I'm gonna love you till my dying day
I am saved by the promise of a Wednesday night with him, sharing in the joys of a shared household, like cleaning the toilets together and grocery shopping in tandem. And no, it's not capital-S-salvation, but it's saving me and saving me and saving me every day, every hard moment of every day, this promise of reclaimed time.  And I am thrown to my knees by it, head in hands over it, singing praise and crossing my heart and whistling past graveyards.  And while the skies don't open in glory, it feels like a sacred moment hovers over us, and we break bread in newfound reverence, waiting for the bite to become sanctified flesh on our tongues.  "We are saved, yes, and also we are saved," we say, as we hold tight to each other and share in the communion of a goodnight kiss.


  1. you should write for hallmark!!! The way you describe all you spoke of and the emotion it creates in you. Thank you. I can see Sarah inspired so many people with this subject. Very glad to have found your blog.

  2. Beautiful, Liz! This is gorgeous.

  3. LOVE this!! "He speaks flesh because we speak flesh." Of course He would speak the love language of his child. Never thought of it/Him this way. Beautiful.

  4. So so so beautifully marvellous and wonderfully amazing! Beautiful. Beautiful. Beautiful. This is what is saving me too. These same things. These moments. These things. They are so so beautiful. Wow. In flesh to communicate to flesh oh I can't explain how I'm feeling but the above it is just so so indescribably beautiful!

  5. This is awesome. And Brandi Carlilie is one of my faves!!

  6. I must echo mjewolfe - "He speaks flesh because we speak flesh" is beautiful, beautiful.

  7. Yes! Salvation in the simple, day-to-day, minute-by-minute beauty that life is made of...if we allow it in, if we notice, if we let ourselves be saved.

    Thank you for this gorgeous piece of writing.


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