Back in 6th. Grade at Holy Family School, we kids used to giggle when Sister Pius would read to us that St.Francis of Assisi referred to his bod as “Brother Ass.” The double entendre was just too juicy for our 10-year-old minds to resist. That a holy nun would utter such a naughty word right out loud shocked and delighted us.
Many decades later I have to smile again at St.Francis’s colorful way of describing his body, not because of the double meaning associated with the word but because of the matter of fact way he looked at his body.
For Francis, his body, like his donkey, was an important part of his life. So, he made sure to feed it and take good care of it. Nobody ever accused him of being one of those masochistic saints who starved himself or beat his body into submission. Nah, he respected the bod he was born with and even had a certain amount of brotherly affection towards it. His body, like his donkey, was a good and useful friend. In his own words, he loved it “as a brother.”
Fast forward to 2008. Do you suppose our tude towards our bodies has changed a bit? OH YEA! I would say so. Wouldn’t you? Brother Ass has taken over center stage in our lives. Fitness centers and Curves locations proliferate; tummy tucks and liposuctions are de rigueur. From diet pills to face lifts to nose jobs, we have elevated Brother Ass from a handy thing to have around to near Deity status.
Do you suppose we have gone over the top just a bit giving fitness centers the reverence and awe we once reserved for churches? Could it be that the time and energy and money we lavish on our bods is a bit much? I wonder if it’s time we took a page out of St. Francis’s book and put a little less time in grooming our physical appearance and more into things like being good human beings.
Does that sound harsh or even worse, “judgmental?” That’s not my intention but when checkout time comes for all of us, don’t you think we will all feel a little silly that we have given so little time to cultivating the spirit within and so much time to pampering our own Brother Ass?
Hank writes from Santa Rosa, CA and can be reached at: email@example.com