Sunday, May 3, 2015

This Is My Body: From Obesity to Ironman, My Journey into the True Meaning of Flesh, Spirit, and Deeper Faith by Ragan Sutterfield

I have a confession to make that this is not a Catholic book. The author Ragan Sutterfield is in the process of becoming an Episcopal priest. He has a strong faith in the Episcopalian tradition. I felt drawn to this book because of the topic of how are body fits into our spirituality. We are an Incarnational people where Jesus has come to us in our humanity in human history and through the Eucharist everyday. We believe in the Resurrection of the body at the end of times. Jesus’ resurrected body still had the wounds of his crucifixion when he appeared to his disciples in the upper room. We are called to accept our bodies as part of ourselves as to who we are in this life and the next. That can mean different things to different people. I can identify with the main character in This Is My Body as he struggles against his body early in his life then comes to terms with his body as part of his identity. It is an amazing journey described by Sutterfeld from obesity as a child to an Ironman competition of 140.6 miles of swimming, biking, and running. The book is steeped in scripture and theology throughout. I am not an athlete or a runner but I can understand when the author says when he runs his body and spirit are one. We take our faith into ourselves through our body in communion and interface with our environment and other people living out our faith through our hands and postures to bring God out to the world. I enjoyed the format of the book where the author counts down to the Ironman competition in every other chapter in current time and then alternates with his biographical history. There is a restlessness Sutterfield describes with being locked into cubicles in the city and in isolation with living on the farm that is very relatable. I think we can often feel this way when we are trying to find our place within the world where we feel satisfied, engaged and fulfilled. This is My Body is so motivating to connect with your interior life, with God, and with the physical world. I would definitely recommend this book to you. This Is My Body was difficult to put down and a “page turner” as they say. It challenged me in thinking of the body as not just a temple of the Holy Spirit but integral to our experience of God and our expression of our faith.

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