"The glory of God is man fully alive, and the life of man is the vision of God." -St Irenaeus of Lyon

The Parts of the Body that No One Talks about…

…include the bladder.

But the bladder is really, really unique.  Its uniqueness makes it stand apart from other body parts.  The bladder contains a very special type of cell in the human body: transitional epithelium.

I still remember transitional epithelium from my high school anatomy class.  These cells end to be shaped as rectangles that can shift their shape in order to expand the capacity of the bladder.  They get squished by the incoming fluid pressure of urine, allow the bladder to expand to accommodate the increased fluid volume, and guard the body against the toxic effects of urine.  These cells regularly smash up against urine, all in order to allow wastes to leave the human body safely.

It’s not a glamorous job, being a bladder cell.  But the unique way the bladder cells respond to pressure allows even waste management to be a life-giving process.  The pressure in the transitional epithelium triggers the nerve response to tell the brain when it is time to void.  But the brain knows because the bladder cells sense the presence of the waste.

When people speak of the Body of Christ, they often refer to this passage by St Paul from 1 Corinthians:

For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

It’s rather fashionable to try to envision yourself as a part of the body.  People often choose things like hands, feet, eyes, heart, spine, mouth, and stomach to describe their role in the body.  I think the most creative answer I have ever heard to the question of “What part of the body are you?” was when someone answered with the liver.  I do not think I have ever heard someone choosing the nose, but I could be wrong.

Yet, more and more, I think I see being members of one another like being a single cell in the body, shaped in a unique way so that we fit together.  And I thank God for those strange cells in our bodies that seem just flat-out strange.  Perhaps the bladder is where we find our most fervent intercessors, pleading for God’s mercy to purify His Body.

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4 responses

  1. Amy Jurden

    I have to tell you that I love this blog post. I thought I had thought through all of the random if you were a ___ what would you be questions, but now you go and throw one out there I have never considered. I think I would be the liver because I feel like I spend my day filtering out the toxins from the world around me and trying to keep the good nutrients flowing (i.e. out with the negative, in with the positive). That is what the liver does right? Or is that the kidneys? Hmm…maybe I should’ve taken an anatomy class! I guess I will have to review wikipedia and get back to you! In the meantime, maybe you can tell me if my choice and reasoning is sound. 🙂

    20 May 2010 at 12:07 pm

    • The liver primarily concerns itself with the bloodstream, whereas the kidneys filter for the components in urine.

      20 May 2010 at 3:45 pm

  2. Rhea

    I like this, mostly because it just solidifies my belief that I’m cooler than most people b/c I’m so completely strange 😉

    20 May 2010 at 4:04 pm

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