Sunday, June 25, 2017

My Whole Self...

To say there is a lot going on in my life would be an understatement.  Some of what is going on is well known.  Some is more personal.  All of it is real.  And it turns out that when "stuff" is going on in life, it takes up space - emotional, chronological, intellectual, spiritual.  It takes up all the spaces.

One of the things going on is the last steps of preparation for ordination.  This is the culmination (we hope) of a journey that I've been on for about 12 years now.  It involves swimming in and describing, through the lens of my ministry, who God is and how God moves in the world.  And I'm super-focused right now on incarnation.  We are bodies -- flesh and blood, muscles and minds -- made in the image of an amazingly creative God.  Our bodies are vessels called into the world by God to be hands and feet, to be the very likeness of Jesus in the world to serve others.

It is not lost on me, then, that in the midst of all the things (so many things) going on, my body is carrying the stress and strain and anxiety of it all.

This was made very plain to me on Thursday night.  After years of quipping about my large personal space, about my big bubble of safety, I had a massage as part of a plan of care with a chiropractor addressing some long-term and emerging issues in my neck, back and hips.  It turns out that my body is rebelling a bit about running 24 miles a week.  Or maybe my body is rebelling about all the things to which I say "yes." Or maybe my body is rebelling about the way I cope with the world. A while ago, a dear friend looked at a photo of me in tree pose and commented, "I'd like to see your shoulders further from your ears."  Turns out my body would like that too...

The bottom line is that things hurt, they are kinked up and out of alignment, and my neck and back are making some crazy awful crunching sounds.  Joy-stealing.

Anyway...a massage. Something I've joked with good friends about over the years.  A stranger meticulously working on my flesh with their hands.  Anxiety producing just to think about.  And at my age, it is time to get over that because I know the way muscles work.  I know that after years of accommodating a twinge here and an ache there, muscle groups knot themselves around unstable vertebrae and joints.  And in order to straighten things out, things have to move back into "right" places.  Which requires loosening up the knots. Which requires unbinding tissue.  Which involves some pain.

I had knots in my shoulders.  The chiropractor warned me -- this therapeutic massage was not going to be a delight. It was going to involve discomfort.

YOWCH.  Here's the thing.  My neck and shoulders are a mess.  Between typing on a keyboard, hunching over books to study, and carrying the stress of work and parenthood these past few years (ok...maybe 20 years), my shoulders bear the burden literally.

And as this talented, muscle-bound, tattooed and mohawked massage therapist tended to my knotted neck and shoulders (yowch...I used deep breathing labor), I came to grips with how "pent up" I have become.  And that has profound implications.  Because when I am knotted up like that, I can't show up in relationship.  I can't show up in service.  I can't show up and be fully present.

And while I could pile on and feel inadequate and think of all the ways I need to do more, the bottom line is that I need to care for myself more.  Which means I probably need to find rest.  To find stillness.  To find mindfulness.  To tend to my body differently.  To realize that I don't have to keep chasing (literally -- 24 miles a week sometimes) perfection and goodness and success.  I recall the advice of a beloved mentor, "you have worked really hard.  You need a season of rest."

Because "all I ever have to be is what You made me...any more or less would be a step out of Your plan" (lyric credit - Amy Grant).  I know - intellectually and even spiritually - that I am enough.  But it is time for that to be more than an intellectual and spiritual mantra.  It's time for it to be embodied.

Because I fearfully and wonderfully made. And I am enough.