“You knit me together in my mother’s womb. . . . I was being made in secret, intricately woven” (Psalm 139:13–15). What a beautiful figure of speech for our Creator God! The artwork here depicts God as an old man. Knitting, however, is usually the work of a woman. Maybe someday an artist will draw God knitting as a young woman!
I’ve just survived three weeks of pleurisy. (Who gets that anymore— especially after a year of lockdown?) The symptom is severe pain in the right side. The experience forced me to pay attention to my body, which I usually take for granted. It also taught me that pleura is a thin membrane around the lungs that can become inflamed.
I’m aware of some amazing features of our body: cuts that magically heal, nails that protect our finger and toe tips, vocal cords that let us communicate and sing, eyelashes and eyebrows that shield our eyes. But I explored the Internet to learn more facts about the gift of our bodies, called “an engineering marvel.” Now I share fourteen of them with you:
• Our digestive system converts food—all kinds—into our bodies. The acid in our stomachs can dissolve metal.
• Our brain comprises over 100 billion cells. If half of it is missing, the other half adapts and takes over its tasks.
• We have 20 square yards of skin (on the average). It shields us from bacteria and makes us waterproof.
• Our ear houses 24,000 hairs that operate like piano strings and send electrical impulses to our brain.
• Our tears protect our eyes. They contain lysozyome, an antibacterial, as well as stress and pain-relieving hormones that make us feel better after we cry.
• Our hand has a powerful grasp, and our fingers can delicately maneuver small objects—all because the muscles that control them are in our forearm.
• Interior cooling and heating systems keep our temperature around 98.6° for the sake of our organs.
• We have 60,000 miles of blood vessels, enough to circle the earth four times. And our heart pumps 1 1/2 gallons of blood every minute. Whew!
• The lens in our eyes change thickness and curvature automatically to enable us to see different distances.
• Our foot has 26 bones and 33 joints.
• We take about 20,000 breaths every day.
• We have 650 muscles.
• Its estimated that our nose can detect a trillion different scents.
• Our mouth glands produce 2 to 4 pints of saliva a day, which combat bacteria and, of course, help with eating.
No wonder Shakespeare has Hamlet say,
“What a piece of work is a man, how noble in reason, how
infinite in faculties, in form and moving how express and
admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like
a god! the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals.”
Psalm 139 reminds me of Fr. Jude Mead, a large Passionist priest, who would exhort us in a booming voice to stay “fast-knit to Christ.” In other words, we complete God’s knitting project by knitting ourselves to Jesus! And how do we do that?
We pray every day, that is, we speak to Jesus and listen to him. We read Scripture that not only tells us about him but is a channel through which he speaks to us. We receive Communion as often as we can, thereby uniting ourselves intimately with him.
I tried to knit once and the result was a bulky pair of mittens. I do crochet baby blankets though. Here is my current project. Both knitting and crocheting require time, attention, and following directions. So does being fast-knit to Christ.
• What fascinating features of our body do you appreciate? You might compose a prayer thanking God for all of them.
For reflection on Psalm 139: