“This cup is My blood, My new covenant with you, each time you drink this cup, remember Me.”

It’s been a long week, come to think of it, it’s been a long month with Covid-19 hitting Seattle by force. We have stayed home, stopped going to school, changed our work schedules, and so when I find myself eating tablespoons of Nutella from the jar, I am not super hard on myself. My relationship with food is always telling me something about how I am doing internally. I always try to listen to what my body is saying, and I am starting to see a pattern when I am PMSing: no desire to have sex, ambivalence with the big things, frustration with the small stuff, bloating, and a lack of care about exercise or sugar intake. 

The woman’s uterus instinctively knows how to birth.

A woman’s body, despite whether she has ever physically birthed, knows how to birth, a frame containing a uterus practice monthly for most of her life to birth. My body is whispering or yelling truths to me whenever I start to prepare for birthing. What am I birthing this time around? An anxious month, a celebratory season, another year of life, a separation with a lover, a reckoning with myself… Whatever the birthing, I can always feel the preparation. I keep looking for blood to come, waiting for relief that these feelings are all part of a bigger picture. 

Our body was meant to be a trusted friend; if it isn’t, we must mend the trust. 

There is a trusted friendship that I want to have with my body, a knowing that we care for each other, a security that we’ve got each other’s back. It is in the moments of disconnect with my body that I feel most alone and out of sorts in the world. It reminds me of what women with an invisible disease would explain as the “foreignness” in their bodies, somehow betrayed by an illness that could kill them all the while their exterior looking healthy. I have known this foreignness with my body when it has carried a lifeless child within my womb while acting as if all were normal and well. Sometimes, in the regular monthly cycles of menstruation, I feel a fraction of this foreignness, like my mood, my cramps, my blood are saying something, and I am not connected to it. 

Cyclical bleeding is an invitation to knowing yourself more.

These repeated months over a span of almost 40 years are still invitations to knowing myself anew. After being done with pregnancies, I am noticing a new pattern in the week before my pre-menopausal period. It is as if each time I am preparing to birth something, a physical prompting to allow myself to release and shed blood. It feels more vulnerably close to death and burying. I think I am being invited into the act of burying better than before. These days, there is relief when blood comes. It seems like an explanation, and expression to my internal turmoil, I even find myself overjoyed. In the last three months, when blood comes, I have run into the other room to tell my husband in some sort of excitement. Like, “See, I knew something was up” or “I did it, I birthed another small hardship through this body of mine.” My excitement doesn’t make much sense, but ever since the shame of bleeding has been taken away and the stigma of my period has been removed, I feel free to be curious. What is my body trying to birth each month? It actually becomes a wonder that I start to follow its lead, and I listen.

I approach my bleeding body with shamelessness and curiosity. 

This month was about birthing the anxiety and stir-crazy of the coronavirus – my body was sorting through all the feelings of global hardship, financial devastation, and physical sickness. The media, number of cases, and daily changes were exhausting, and my body was telling me that it could feel the weight and could also birth through it. So when the blood came, I was overjoyed, my body had found a way to move through its cycle in such a massive season, and I was grateful. And Bruce Springsteen’s sings, 

“There’s a blood, red circle on the cold, dark ground, and the rain is falling down, 

church door’s thrown open, the congregation is gone, my city of ruins.

The boarded-up windows, empty streets, my city of ruins.”

What is the state of our globe? What is the state of your body? What is the state of your soul? How does it respond to devastation? How does it react to heartache and loss? When blood comes, I think I can hear your body saying, whispering or yelling, 

“Come on rise up, 

come on rise up, 

come on rise up, 

 come on rise up.” 

Our blood is saying something to you, “Come on, rise up, this cup is my blood, a new covenant.” 

May we all be invited into our bleeding as a way of knowing that our bodies are good, and our bodies can metabolize the life/death/life cycle. We should stop and listen to our wise bodies, for they can teach us so very much. If I listen in these moments, to my body, my uterus shedding its lining and pouring itself out, I hear God speaking. Growing up in Catholicism, the first communion was a big deal, a rite of passage in the community that a child could not receive until they were of age and asked Jesus to come into their hearts. My priest taught me that after receiving Jesus in Holy Communion, you must remember that you are carrying Jesus to your homes and schools as Jesus’ mother Mary carried Jesus to her cousin Elizabeth. When you are alone, you have Jesus living in your soul and can tell Him all things. So, I believe my monthly cup of blood is the closest physical representation of Christ, breaking His body and bleeding into a cup and offering it to me as a remembrance that the old is gone, the new has come. 

“This cup is My blood, My new covenant with you, each time you drink this cup, come on and rise up and remember Me.”