The next time you go for a walk, feel your feet walking across the ground. What do your footsteps sound like? Listen to their speech. What are they saying? Do you feel the need to take off your shoes because something sacred is rising around your ankles? If it’s warm enough, what does it feel like to feel the ground against your bare feet? If it’s cold, do you dare step down into the snow, and hobble like your dog when it’s below zero?
Feel your ankles rocking on your feet and your legs swinging you forward, or to the side or in a circle, a dance.
How does cloth feel around your legs and bottom? Does it wrap shame or power around you?
Does your belly feel hollow? Satisfied? Overstuffed? Does your belly burn with desire?
How about your breath? How does the air feel when you draw it through your nose and mouth, when you draw it into your lungs and your belly billows? When you push it out in a sigh?
How is your heart? Is it quiet? Broken? Leaping for joy? Thudding with panic? Remember your heart is faithfully pushing life through your veins and arteries.
How does your face feel when it meets the air? Or your beloved?
Feel your body and bless it, even if it offers up pain, or shame, because it is your home here in this world that serves up the world’s beauty and difficulty. Remember, where you step is sacred ground.
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This is an exercise I used to teach my students to show them what I meant by “Add Detail.” I’d take them for a walk around the pretty side of Reavis and Cole and DuSable showing them horse chestnuts and telling them do exactly this–feel your bodies, feel the wind. We’d go back to the classroom and write what we saw. Then I’d ask them to add physical details to some writing I’d assigned. And they would. Their revisions were pretty exciting to read.
It’s been a long walk for me to learn to bless my body. As a young woman I was ashamed of my rumpy figure and large thighs and rolling belly. When I was young the images I saw on TV of women worthy to be loved where rail thin, with boyish figures. I could never slice through air that thin. I’ve done the Weight Watcher thing since the seventies. Early on I found it was marvelous to discover all the things I could eat. The last version that worked for me, I lost 40 lbs. But the pounds have come back some because I like chocolate at night, pretzels during the afternoon and my body wants to find the fat she has lost. At any rate, it is a grace to see women who look like me as finalists on American Idol and finding love in movies.
It’s Bruce and my horses and mortality that have taught me to bless my body. Bruce’s love has been so consistent and kind. He shows me what he sees and touches. He shows me in the mirror, his eyes soft. My horses have drawn me to feel deep down into my body because it’s how we talk to each other–spine to spine, leg to barrel, hand to mouth. I have to feel what my body is telling her, so she can most clearly hear me.
Now that I’ve outlived my mother, I think about how one day I won’t have this body helping me meet the world. I am grateful this body has been as healthy as it’s been, that it has taken care of me even during the dark times. I am grateful I get to eat and drink and experience what cool water feels like sliding through my throat into my stomach, what it feels like to have my thirst quenched. Doc finding a medication that has eased my sore leg, has made me feel grateful for being able to walk without a limp, and walk fast to get my chores done. I am grateful for manure–my horse’s and my own, because it means that mortal coil is slipping and sliding like it’s supposed to.
If you’re not at peace with your body, I hope you find a way to make peace with him or her, because even though s/he’s not perfect, with aches and pains, too much fat or too thin, s/he is a mighty gift, her senses bringing the sights, smells, tastes, sounds of this glorious world.
A side note: I’m probably going to be irregular with my posts this summer, because, well, it’s summer. I’d like to make tracks on some book projects also. Thank you for coming along and reading my posts. Lift up your heart. Lift your heart up to the Lord.
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