As part of my advanced teacher training program, I spent four hours in a cadaver lab this morning examining and dissecting human bodies to better understand anatomy. While my understanding of human anatomy certainly increased in ways I’m sure I haven’t even processed yet, today’s experience was about so much more. There are certain experiences for which words were not invented, moments in life that transcend the limits of human language and are somehow recorded deep within one’s being; these experiences often are those that touch us to the core. While this is how I feel about what I was blessed to do today, I will do my best to express a few of the epiphanies that I had.

I am not my body! Whatever it is that makes my body be alive will one day leave this body, and this body will die. On that day, the thing that is “me” will no longer be inside this body. It is temporary, and it is meant to die. I hope that I have a soul or some essence that will move on once this body dies, but even if I do not, I am not my body.

With all that being said, this body, your body, my body, even the cancer10895506_791297330917793_47902858_n lung I held today… all bodies are beautiful and miraculous. The intelligence with which the body naturally operates and grows is nothing short of divine. There is not a single thing that is being wasted, and it’s gorgeous.

In one of the bodies, the man had lung cancer, and I was able to hold his lung in my hands. The color was the most amazing shade of violet I had ever seen; forgive me if this sounds macabre, but cancer in this lung made it somehow even more beautiful. Holding this man’s cause of death was one of the most intimate things I’ve ever done. It makes me cry to think about the man’s friends and family, the treatments he sought for his disease, the years he had, and now I’m forever a part of his story even if he can’t be here to know it. I don’t know that I have ever been more humbled in my life.

Perhaps my biggest take away today was gratitude. I can not possibly be more grateful for the people who donated their bodies to science so that people in health related fields can better understand and help heal broken bodies. I am grateful for this miracle I get to live inside. I’m grateful that I can run and dance and sing and drink water and smell flowers and love. This life will not last forever. It is meant to be enjoyed, and it is meant to be lived.