Naked before God.
I was born with clothes on. My soul was born clothed in flesh; and who I was became cloaked in the limited expressions and sensations of this body. But even then, this body was too vulnerable—exposed to the physical elements and emotional judgements of my environment. So the adults shrouded my existence further with fabric.
Since that day, my true nature has constantly been obscured by carefully-practiced smiles, dutifully-buttoned shirts, and stoically coifed hair. Behind these things, my identity—my soul—lies protected. You cannot know me unless I extend you an invitation to come close—
unless I show you the emotions that lies underneath.
The soul is protected by the body; the body is protected by clothes.
Alas, we are destined to remain within the confines of our body. Until death, we cannot hope to exist as pure souls, eternally exposed to the touch of God. But we can get pretty darn close. This is skinny dipping—to bare yourself to the natural wonders of the Lord.
Sometimes, in a summer forest, I can take off my clothes, and nearly manage to shed my very flesh. The cold truth of the water prickles my ever-thinning skin, but I don’t flee the temperature. An earnest suggestion of wind ruffles through my hair, but I don’t fix the muss. Every pore of my body opens, exposed to whatever stimulus approaches.
Is this not a physical manifestation of a spiritual discipline we spend our lives attempting to master? To develop a sensitivity to the voice of God—an eternal openness to His sovereign will? There are only seven physical things on this planet that were created by God. Six of them we call nature, and the seventh is us. The first six do exactly as he tells them, and for a time so did we.
Genesis ineffably describes that when Adam and Eve sinned, they made clothes and hid from God when he called them. They had just closed their souls to Him and proceeded to also close their bodies from Him—and each other.
American poet Walt Whitman describes moral beauty in returning oneself to nature—in re-including yourself in God’s six other obedient creations.
“Is not nakedness indecent? No, not inherently. It is your thought, your sophistication, your fear, your respectability, that is indecent. There come moods when these clothes of ours are not only too irksome to wear, but are themselves indecent.”
I am not suggesting clothes, or the flesh, are evil. I am suggesting that we have forgotten their purposes. The body is not meant to protect the soul; it is designed to be an expression of it. So too, style, tailoring, dress, fashion—these are supposed to proclaim our identity not mask it!
The next time you go to meet with God, leave your linens behind like Jesus did when he resurrected, rip your shirt open like Job, or even just take your shoes off like Moses. Let the sun touch your skin and the Son touch your soul.