Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born anew.’ ”
Recently, I have embarked, for the second time in three years, on a course of treatment for lymphedema in my legs. This condition is for me the result of sitting too much, of exercising too little, and of being the daughter of my mother, who struggled with the same condition from an early age. The treatment includes a technique called “manual lymph drainage” therapy, in which the therapist applies hands-on pressure to the limbs in a gentle and systematic way to ease the excess fluid in my limbs and torso back to my heart via my body’s lymph vessels, nodes, and organs. The lymph system is an essential cornerstone of the immune system. The lymphatic vessels convey the normal (and sometimes excessive) waste products in my tissues through specialized processes designed literally to refresh and renew that liquid component, water, that composes 98% of my body.
I am, again, on the threshold of experiencing in a deep, bodily, and very personal way just how non-negotiable aging is and what a miracle the human body is. I am committing once more to knowing my own flesh and blood (and body and lymph), all of it, as I help my body cleanse itself of the by-products of metabolism through my lymph system and as I am cleansed again of the consequences of living in the world in this human body. I am born again, daily, with the help of God, my physical therapist, and my own healing hands, into the world to do God’s work. May I ever partake of these miracles with humility and awe.
— Leslie Middleton