by Robin Lovett Owen
In your beginning, God scooped up humus – rich, dark soil – and breathed life into it, and called you, you. And God looked at this body, with all its sinews and muscles and rolls of fat, with your face, size, hair and skin, abilities, and God called this body good. This is your home: your body. And God placed you exactly where you belong: the garden, along with all the other animals – your siblings. This is also your home: God’s good Earth. One is not more your body than the other, because the soil and you are the same, really – humus.
But if this is the story of a beginning and a garden, there is also a story of exile. I don’t know what your exile from your body/earth home entailed, but I know that mine has been tied up with queerphobia – and that it is the earth, the garden herself, who has so often welcomed me back home.
Since a young age, I struggled with the gendered expectations placed on me – girly, delicate, demure. Even now, the femininity expected of me feels like a pair of pants three sizes too small. Perhaps this is why I have always struggled with disordered eating – I have always strived for something not quite right for my body. At every turn, whether it was because my body did not fit the androgynous cut of clothing I wanted, or because peace with my body at any size has proven elusive, my body has felt less like home and more like exile. And I know I’m not alone – queer people suffer from disordered eating at higher rates than our straight peers.
For me, queerness is about the journey home – the experience of coming to love this body home of mine. It is about accepting all the very good things God created in my body: the gift of sexuality, the joy of eating, the softness of my belly, or the bliss of joyful movement. These things remind me that just being is a gift of grace.
I’ve had many companions on this journey back home, including the queer community. But the Earth has been my dearest companion on my way back home. Whether in mountains or prairies, the Earth has reminded me that my creatureliness is not to be scorned but to be loved. The motherliness of male songbirds and the industriousness of female worker bees remind me that there is nothing unnatural about gender nonconformity. The trees bloom in the spring, the tides of Lake Michigan come in and out, the animals become fat before winter sets in – all remind me that my body waxes and wanes, and every change is good.
When I marvel at God’s good earth on this Earth Day, I remember that I, too, am fearfully and wonderfully made – just as I am, queer and whole. I am reminded that I need this good body/Earth home to heal.
Today, for every gift made to ELM, we will plant one tree through the organization OneTreePlanted in honor of Earth Day. Or, you can click the link to donate directly and plant as many trees as you desire. Thank you!
Image Description: Green grass background with the words: This is your home: your body. And God placed you exactly where you belong: the garden, along with all the other animals – your siblings. This is also your home: God’s good Earth. One is not more your body than the other, because the soil and you are the same, really – humus.- Robin Lovett Owen