wlebolt

wlebolt

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Home page: https://kinestheticchristian.com

Posts by wlebolt

The Big Finish

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Dear Kinesthetic Christian friends and fans,

Since July of 2012 I have been posting to this space, as a way to explore and share ideas about an embodied faith — a faith that lives and moves and has its being in and through me. Perhaps it feels so also with you. Thank you, Dear Reader, for your time in commenting, responding and encouraging me along the way.

At 835 published posts, I am drawing the Kinesthetic Christian blog to a close. But before I go… I have reorganized the Kinesthetic Christian site to feature my favorite “evergreen” posts in categories: “FAITH,” “HOPE,” and “LOVE.”

As scripture tells us, “Faith, hope, and love remain, these three, and the greatest of these is love.” Surely, you’ll agree, our world needs more of all three. I hope you’ll visit the site and share what speaks faith to you with those you love.

Faithfully Yours,
Wendy Rilling LeBolt
Kinesthetic Christian

How can I connect with a Creator I cannot see?

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We connect everyday with things we don’t see, many of them in an old, familiar way. What does this for you?

For me it is my dad’s old sweatshirt. Turned inside out, it was my favorite outfit as a kid. Even in the coldest weather, I could put it on over whatever else I was wearing, push up the sleeves, and shoot hoops on my driveway. On wet days, the puddles didn’t stop me. If I missed a rebound and the ball went splat, I’d just wipe it on the tummy fuzz of my sweatshirt and put it back into play. That shirt worked just as well for hitting tennis balls against the garage door, fielding grounders off the brick wall, catching pop-ups in the backyard, or circling the driveway in roller skates.

Yep, I was always on the move. Not because my parents told me to, and no, I wasn’t practicing for a big tournament or to make the all-star team. I just loved how it felt to move, whether I was lofting a ball that swished through the net, striking a ball in the center of my racquet, catching a ball securely in my mitt, or propelling myself around the turn on wheels. Movement taught me how to listen to my body so I could feel the inside of me. Physically. Through trial and error, adjustment and repetition, I improved my aim and perfected my form.

It would have never occurred to my eight-year-old self that movement could be a contemplative practice. But my grown-up self knows that it certainly was and still is. It helps me to listen, to be thoughtful, reflective, focused, and stilled – just not always while I am still. What could be more natural?

We each have a body and the Psalms tell us each is fearfully, wonderfully, and uniquely made by our Creator’s design. Where better then for God to meet us than in our very own flesh as we experience life according to that design? Even if we aren’t primarily kinesthetic learners by nature, our physical selves are the one thing we know God gave us just for this lifetime. We take our bodies with us everywhere we go! And wherever we go, God promises to go with us.

This notion is the launching point for Made to Move: Knowing and Loving God Through Our Bodies. It is not a fitness book or a weight loss program; it is a devotional workbook inviting you to use your body as your textbook.

As Christians in progress, seeking to live lives that more closely resemble the life of Jesus, we are commanded to love God fully with heart, soul, mind, and strength, and our neighbors as ourselves. That’s an invitation to experience faith physically. When we allow our bodies to help us connect with God and neighbor, not just metaphorically or philosophically, but tangibly and concretely, we make our faith real. That God is as close as our skin, as mobile as our joints, as strong as our muscles, as magnificent as our minds, and as constant as our heartbeat.

Made to Move is also a fresh way to introduce faith to others (children, teens, family, friends) who are skeptical or who have had little or no religious background or Christian education. Because we share a physical nature, the body and how it works provide a great meeting ground to kick off discussion and conversation. For instance:

  • We want a strong core so we can both stand firm and move well: what is at your core?
  • We need a firm foundation so we don’t slip and fall: how firm is your foundation?
  • Our heartbeat is constant and responsive to our needs: what is constant for you?
  • Human arms are designed to hold, reach, and lift: why do you think we were made that way?

People today are looking for reasons to believe. We need to give them some concrete examples and opportunities to ask questions.

As a practitioner of a physical faith, I have come to call myself a kinesthetic Christian. Movement was my first language, and it remains my learning language; the best way I know to connect with the God I have come to know more fully as I have matured in faith. Even though my middle-aged body can’t do all that it used to when I was an agile youth on the field of play, God is still teaching me through it. It’s the place we meet and have a loving conversation in the language we both know, the language of the human body.

If the whole purpose of our lives is to know and love God more, surely God has given us a way to succeed. What could be more unique, more personal, or more perfect than the bodies we came with?

Can God speak to us through our bodies?

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God speaks to us through our bodies.

Why is that so hard to believe? We say that 70% of communication is non-verbal. Why do we insist that God speak through our listening ears? What do we perceive non-verbally?

Well, this may sound nonsensical, because in normal conversation, what we mean by non-verbal is messaging though “body-language.” What do their facial expressions say? What does their hand-positioning tell us? their posture? their movement? This is the language of their bodies? God doesn’t have a body — at least not one we can see and touch. At least not me.

What if God is speaking God’s nonverbal expression through MY body? Uniquely and specifically to me? How would I listen? How would I interpret? How would I attend to what God is speaking? If am not aware of God, is there something getting in the way and scrambling our communication?

Much depends on my relationship with my own body. So what does you body say to you when you address it? is your body telling you?Do you find yourself in any of these? here?

  • the avoider: I don’t want to talk about that. Let’s change the subject. let’s talk about something else. So, how are you doing…?
  • The excuse maker: I don’t speak that language. (I’m not coordinated, not good at sports, never got picked for the team, really not very competitive.)
  • the ashamed: I can’t talk about that. Am uncomfortable talking about my body. am ashamed, embarassed, have been hurt of abused.
  • the guilty: There’s nothing wrong with what I am doing. Nothing to see here. Move along. unaware or blind to the connection between body and God, in denial
  • the arguer, reasoner/rationalizer: The Bible says the flesh is bad, but the spirit is good. I choose to focus on the spirit. After all, this body of mine is just a temporary possession. gonna perish anyway.

Avoiding, excusing, shaming, denying, and arguing are all ways we step away from this conversation. In doing so, do we miss a blessed, poignant and personal way God created for us to be aware of Him? Forfeit an intimate connection? Miss perhaps 70% of what God is speaking?

Perhaps this is the most essential message of the coming of Christ: fully divine AND fully human, incarnated. Here in the flesh. God, knowing our reluctant selves, argumentative, avoidant, shamed and guilty selves, said, I can live in that body. When I do, I can take the helm, if you give it to me. I will speak course correction, signal change of heading, chart the course, and apply the rudder. Heck, I can even still the winds blowing us off course.

The keys are two: attend to My touch and apply my direction. Use your body’s awareness of me to accept my guidance. (like horse and rider)

Try: ask your body to respond to these commands/instructions:

  • slow,
  • calm,
  • focus
  • look
  • listen
  • breathe
  • imagine
  • attend
  • release
  • turn
  • wait
  • GO!

These commands are activated in our flesh, through our physical nature. God speaks to us, so God can speak through us.

Of course, one can only be guided when one is moving. Nothing (but God) can correct the course of something that refuses to budge, arms crossed. Movement in any direction, God can work with.

Folded hands which signal I’m not budging is something God refuses to override.

We are made to move. Our bodies — heart, soul, mind, strength and spirit — remind us of this everyday. It’s the way God intended to get and keep our attention. It’s why God gave us a body — to incline us to follow Him in this earthly lifetime.

*(This is the thesis of my book, Made to Move: (learning to) Knowing and Loving God through our Bodies, find it here.)

Which way are you going?

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Stretch to strengthen: pain of a healing sort

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No one really wants to be stretched. At least not too far, and definitely not when the stretching goes beyond what feels comfortable.

There’s just a certain out-of-control-feeling when someone is pulling you and you don’t know how far they will go, or even if they will stop. If you have ever had physical therapy after an injury or surgery, you know exactly what I’m describing. It’s painful but it’s pain of a healing sort. It helps recover your range of motion, and once you have that, the strengthening can begin. Then you’re on the road to return to action.

While there lots of ways to strengthen — exercise machines, dumbbells, pulleys, weights — it’s likely that when you earn your discharge from the PT gym you’ll be sent home with a lovely parting gift called a resistance band. It’s meant to be your home exercise companion. And it comes with a wonderful secret: When you stretch it, it strengthens you.

I know that sounds a bit counterintuitive, but it’s true. When you pull, it resists, gently. As you pull harder, it stretches, slowly. The harder you pull, the more it stretches and the more that strengthens you. This feels very much like life these days and, to me, very much like the life of faith. Body and soul engaged in a give-and-take which feels very much like exercise.

Apparently, my approach is a bit atypical. While most faith-folk tend to start with the soul and then invite the body along, when I begin with body, my soul always comes along for the joy ride. *

Try for yourself. Here’s a simple prayer routine using the “exercise” band and the words to the praise song, Spirit of the Living God. My daughter Stephanie’s lovely voice accompanies me.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mse98SpD1v4]

The movement is prayer. The words are prayer. The music is prayer.

But even better, even after the prayer-exercise is done, the sensation of prayer remains… in the body! The muscles that moved the band — the effort, the stretch, the exertion of prayer — reverberate and reiterate: melt me, mold me, fill me, use me. Literally, the prayer is still there.

This is too good to be true, right? Try it again. Become aware of the energy, the symbiosis, the connection of stretch to strengthen. Let your body prayer become fluid, flowing one motion into the next. Body and soul, together. Who could conceive of something so powerful and yet so simple?

*My thanks to the folks at the Upper Room for honoring my unusual approach and inviting me to join them to lead worship at SOULfeast 2013.

SOULfeast 2013

I’m taking the day off

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It's my birthday, 
so I'm taking the day off from worrying...

about the state of the earth, whether it's terminal 
about the state of the nation, whether it's fixable
about the state of our politics, whether they're resolvable.

I am exempting myself...
from chores unless I want to do them
from duties unless I care to accept them
from stuff that screams PAY ATTENTION! 

Worry and responsibility have been distracting
me from what it's clear I should be celebrating ...
--  the wonderful friends I have found
--  a glorious family that abounds 
-- the generous gifts which resound
-- the amazing world all around.

Disclaimer: 
I know full well, it is my privilege to get to choose worry-free;
because today no one is depending on me --
for food, for peace, for calm, for life.

Even more then the ample reason
to give thanks for this reality season; 
when I can't do what I used to, perhaps
so I especially enjoy the things I get to.

My pesky pups a'clambering to play
On this sunshine-kissed spectacular day,
Of course the first thing that I do,
Is step right in the dog poo.
Eh, shake it off, fertilizer, nothing to lose,
For now, I've got another pair of shoes.

I wonder how many things I'd worry about less 
If I trusted I had what's needed to clean up the mess.  

On this, my birthday in 2023
thank you friends for celebrating with me. 
I am feeling spectacularly free,
a privilege I don't take lightly.
   

Don’t Hold On

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Mary Magdalene stayed by the tomb. Lingered in the wake of death. And in her waiting she was rewarded… Until Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!”  John 20:17

***

When I was in the first grade, I entered a kite flying contest. My father helped me handcraft my kite from scrap wood, glue and newsprint. The big day arrived warm and blustery, and he helped me tie on a long tail of rags in preparation for the Midwestern gusts.

The kite leapt in the wind as my six year old hands held tightly to the red handles around which spun the spool of string. I can still feel it turning in my hand, unreeling fast.

“Give it more string,” Dad encouraged.

I smiled watching it rise higher and higher, dipping and diving, floating on the wind. Suddenly, oh so suddenly, the string pulled free. My end of the string had not been securely fastened to the handle. I watched through tears as my treasured kite flew up and up into the clouds.

This childhood memory helps when I imagine how a surprised and overjoyed Mary must have felt when she recognized her beloved teacher standing before her. And how she must have longed to throw her arms around him and to feel his around her. To hold tightly and promise never to let go.

But Jesus said, “Do not hold onto me! I have not yet gone to the Father.” 

Surely it must have been through tears that she let her earthly Teacher go so she might welcome the Savior and then go and tell this good news.

Risen Lord, thank you for the stories you were telling us, even as children, that remind us of your promise to be with us always. Thank you for your strong arms that hold us and never let us go.

Love Inspired

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Infinite love, inhale… All that is in you, exhale… Don’t hold your breath.

As featured on Richard Rohr’s Center for Action and Contemplation

Sometimes you just have to wonder

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How is something so simple…

So magnificent?

Fancy Fades

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It began at a wedding where the wine never ran out…

With fancy nails, 
pristine for the big event.
Now, it’s time ..
to get some DIRT under those nails!
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