Body, Soul, Self… and Things That Grow Between Them

It took me four months of off-and-on labor, stolen daily from other needful tasks… but at last have I cleared and leveled a tract of land measuring about half an acre.  I don’t entirely know why I did it.  Part of the reason was simply to create a buffer zone between our living space and the area’s more aggressive wild critters.  Part of it, too, was a rather wishful notion that we might some day have grandchildren playing in the space, which I have come to call my “field”.

An old cedar remains intruding slightly upon the field’s otherwise well-squared boundaries.  If it had been merely a pine sapling, I wouldn’t have left it standing—for the young pines are so greedy for sunlight that they tend to choke each other off, anyway.  But cedars are rare, and they also appear to be more abundant in their rarity as dead trunks strewn throughout the forest than as upright, vibrant pillars of bark.  Some disease must be decimating them locally.  This one, too, may not be around for long.  I decided that I should allow it to enjoy whatever time it has left in peace.

Now, what if I were a young woman bearing a child?  What if I faced a choice between clearing out that “underbrush” which impeded certain routine functions or, instead, letting it grow to term?  I could say, “It’s my body, and I don’t want this thing here just now.”  I could say, “I have other plans for that space.  This is inconvenient.”

In the same way, the field I have created is on my property… yet I decided to leave the cedar standing, because I felt that asserting my right over the land by taking the axe to everything in my way would be wanton.  If a tree can elicit such consideration, then why cannot a human sprout receive the same consideration?

The analogy is absurd, the young pregnant woman would respond.  One does not own a piece of land as one owns one’s body.  But is this as valid an objection as it appears? I am not rock and soil—but neither am I mere flesh and blood.  As I approach the threshold of old age, I grow ever more aware that the body is a rented space that I occupy but cannot bend precisely to my will.  Weather wears away the most ambitious acts of human cultivation… and time wears away the body’s responsiveness to will and whimsy.  Maybe if the young woman understood this, she would not be so hasty to take the axe to the small plant trying to spread leaves within her.

She insists, however, not only that the body is hers, but that it is her.  The unwanted “weed” will create physical pain for her that my cedar would never create for me.  This would be a curious argument, though, for “clearing the cavity”; for the woman chooses to uproot something so much a part of her body—herself—that it drums upon her nervous system, whereas I have allowed an organism to remain alive which isn’t integrated into my perceptual receptors in the least.  One would think that the “growth” legitimately belonging to its host would have a greater claim upon preservation.

Yes, we amputate cancers (or attempt to do so)—but in this, we recognize that our body is a mere vehicle or rented property: a temporary cubicle for the spirit.  We do not amputate a thumb because it’s sore, since we understand that it is among the furnishings entrusted to us by the lease.  Is the embryo a cancer or a (sometimes) sore thumb?  Is it a remarkable amenity occasionally and naturally available to the female physique… or is it an invading parasite that threatens to shut down the whole system?

To return to my previous terms, is the embryo the beginning of a new shell that will convey a new soul… or is it an intrusion upon the woman’s “me”, the bodily presence which completely defines her identity?

Much discussion on this subject has grown contradictory, in that the woman who insists upon a one-to-one correspondence with her body is also often waging war with that body.  A fetus is not a cancer.  Its appearance brings to fruition something that a healthy female body is designed to accomplish.  Yet many women appear so belligerently opposed to their natural endowments nowadays that they not only demand the right to amputate the fetus: they even want their reproductive organs changed.  An academic of some sort, I hear, claimed on television last week that breast-feeding is unnatural.  Some women, though not opting to carve up their bodies, decide that the “they” inhabiting said bodies is of the opposite gender; and some insist that this gender can vary with each day on the calendar.

I wonder… in these preposterous contradictions, might we be witnessing the pitiful struggle of the spirit to declare itself in a decadent age when spiritual reality is everywhere formally denied?  Is “gender dissatisfaction” the suffocating soul’s incoherent protest, “I am here—and I’m not the body I occupy?”  Is the passion for abortion (and it is a genuine passion, especially when one considers with what ease pregnancy might be avoided these days) not a similarly garbled protest?  “I am not a baby machine!  That’s my body—I am not my body!  See?  I take this baby and… and I shred it!  I flush it!”  The act is some kind of vendetta.  I find it comprehensible (as the insane can become comprehensible if you allow for self-annihilating energies) in no other way.

Of course, when a fundamental contradiction is admitted into a system, its ripples spread everywhere.  Hence the same women who declare independence of their body by amputating or mutilating its rebellious members also insist that they must obey all biological drives and urges instantly (as self-expression!); and yet more absurdly, they would revile someone like me for clearing his land and “raping” nature.  The suppressed awareness of their own wanton disrespect of nature is transferred to me when I seek to husband nature so that artificial growth patterns may more healthily sustain both plants and animals.

When any human being denies the reality of the spirit, every other reality in his or her life suffers distortion.  Up at last becomes down… and the inverted cross, by the way, is the premier Satanic symbol.