One day many moons ago, one of my boys was doing some clothes shopping with my mother. She was having him try on pants in quick multiple succession with expertise cultivated over many years of mothering half a dozen children. She has it down to a science.
On this occasion, my son was not into her methodology. My mom said he vehemently protested the laxity of her attention to the privacy of his dressing room situation.
He demanded in his squeaky little 3 year old voice,
“Pwease shut dat door! I don’t want all da people to see my GLORY!”
My husband is a pediatric emergency physician, so by the transitive property of the sacrament of holy matrimony I understand the importance of teaching children proper clinical terms for their body parts. I know the serious reasons why children need an accurate vocabulary. But, I must also offer this as my confession: I didn’t follow the rules.
It’s not that our children haven’t learned the clinical terms. For heaven’s sake! They’ve been homeschooled—they know their way around an anatomy book. It’s just that at some point I made the choice to refer to our naked bodies as our “Glory.” And it stuck.
If you have sat in front of a closed tabernacle, you might understand some of my thoughts on this.
What is beautiful, sacred, and glorious is often veiled. Not because it is bad, but because it is so very, very good—and glorious!
The beholding of Glory is something designed for the context of Love. That kind of Love is precious and protective. It is focused on the totality of the beloved. It is not a passing glance or detached gazing at the parts, without proper regard for the sum.
It is the kind of Love that makes a husband stop and stare at his wife just out of the shower–her stretch marks, her sags, her wrinkles, her scars–and see her. Really see her. And, love her.
This is the Love of a mother’s eyes covering every inch of her child in pure awe that this human being exists on this planet and into eternity.
Love like this lets a person hold, bathe, feed, and care for another human being no matter if they are naked, sick, dying, dirty, or broken.
The Love we are aiming for is modeled after our God who never stops looking at us (every single part of us) and Who still reaches for us, even when we feel unlovable and unreachable.
As my big boys have grown and matured, they have certainly adjusted their vocabulary. I haven’t. You can still hear me sing out refrains of “Glory” in our home.
I want Glory to take up space in their hearts and minds in rejection of our world’s casual exposure and use of the human body.
I hope somewhere in a high school locker room. . .in front of a computer screen. . .as a single man. . .or on the way to the altar for marriage or ordination that each of my boys hears a voice of Love resounding the notion of Glory. I want them to see others and themselves as the image of God they were created to be.
“There is no dignity when the human dimension is eliminated from the person. In short, the problem with pornography is not that it shows too much of the person, but that it shows far too little.” Pope St. John Paul II