Category Archives: Made to Move

What if “blessed are you” really means “get up, go ahead and do something”?

I’ve always been a bit confused by the Beatitudes. You know, the “blessed are you” passages… Honestly, I don’t feel “blessed” at all when my spirit is lacking, I mourn, am grossly overmatched or suffering an injustice. Rarely do I find showing mercy, pure-heartedness, peace-making or persecution to be calm, peace-filled endeavors.

Okay, so you say, but they point us to a future where we will be blessed — as kingdom-dwellers. There we’ll be comfortable heirs, contented to experience mercy, see God, and be received as children. Perhaps true, but still confounding to me, because Jesus always struck me as a present tense kind of guy; not just a wait-it-out-and-you-will-see kind of guy. After all, future promises ring pretty hollow when our today is so gnarly.

So, I was delighted to read another take on the “Blessed are you’s,” described in today’s Richard Rohr’s Contemplation and Action newsletter and quoted from Elias Chacour’s book We Belong to the Land. Chacour suggests that the verb traditionally translated as “blessed are you” from the Aramaic is more accurately, Get up, go ahead, do something, move. You who are feeling low or worn out, move into the Kingdom that’s here now. See it! Hear it! Feel it! Claim it!

Now THAT sounds more like Jesus, to me. So let’s rewrite those beatitudes.

Matthew 5 tells us, “when Jesus saw the crowds (he had been healing from every disease and sickness), he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.”

When He said:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. He meant, Get up, go ahead, do something, move, you who are poor in spirit because I am here to fill even the hollow places with spirit-wholeness.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. He meant, Get up, go ahead, do something, move, you who are in mourning because I bring hope and a new day.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. He meant, Get up, go ahead, do something, move, because I will use your meekness to bring down even the mightiest strongmen.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. He meant, Get up, go ahead, do something, move, you who seek justice, for in your seeking you will be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. He meant, Get up, go ahead, do something, move, you who offer mercy, my grace and mercy will rain down upon you.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. He meant, Get up, go ahead, do something, move, you who are pure in heart, for there you will see me.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. He meant, Get up, go ahead, do something, move, you who work for peace for there I will be among you.

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. He meant, Get up, go ahead, do something, move and keep moving, you who are beaten down and even killed, for today you will be with me in paradise.

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. He meant, Get up, go ahead, do something, move, you who are vilified because of me, for I will stand with you when you defend my name.

In your going and doing, “rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven…”

Right now.

In Our Element: when work is play

As I plunged into the cool blue water for the first swim of this pool season, I caught myself smiling through sealed lips and thinking… Ha, if this doesn’t prove we humans emerged from a primordial soup, I don’t know what does. I was in my element. Gliding along effortlessly, or so it felt, churning the water and propelling myself along stroke by stroke.

These strokes, long-practiced in childhood, are something I will never forget. Because I don’t think about them; I just know them, as if handed down from generations past. They come naturally in the wonderfully watery environment which always makes me feel at home, as if its been waiting its whole life for me to come. It welcomes me as one of its own. My friend. My comfort zone. My Zen. My element.

{This, of course, is not so of folks who did not get an early introduction to the water. They are likely less than enthusiastic about jumping in. Primordial soup, I guarantee you, never crosses their minds. Their element is elsewhere.}

But very soon, okay on my second lap, when my arms grow heavy, my breathing becomes labored and my feet start to cramp up from kicking, I begin to wonder about this element. This venue I used to own. What used to be second nature to me is now an effort to sustain. How out of shape I am. How long it has been. How I have let myself go.

And this gives me pause. Mind you, I’m not beating myself up about this, but it does get the attention of my responsible self which realizes that those in-your-element moments don’t happen by themselves. One prepares for them. While there is perhaps a hint of DNA-delivered know-how, for the most part they are a product of a lot of practice. After all…

  • The chef learns the chemistry of cooking, the blending of tastes and flavors, and the enhancements of spices, before his creation of a culinary masterpiece puts him in his element.
  • The lawyer studies the law in careful detail, does her research, prepares her briefs, and tries many cases before she is in her element standing before the jury for closing argument.
  • The golfer only hits it straight and true after many hours of doing otherwise. On rare days when she is in her element, she hardly feels the club strike the ball when she launches it on target.
  • The teacher must master his field and the management of his classroom before he can supply description and explanation which has his students nodding in understanding when he is in his element.

We learn, we practice and we sharpen the tools of our trade for that elemental moment when it feels like no effort at all. Yet it is full: full of preparation, trial-and-error, draft and re-draft, all hidden yet on display.

Could it be that this is what our earthly lifetime is for? to seek and to experience precious in-our-element moments. That through our work, we achieve play.

Children are so good at this because they don’t yet bear the burdens of age: expectation, peer pressure, performance-anxiety, patterned behaviors and responses, worn-out joints and inflexibilities. They bring childhood exuberance and endless energy, rubbery joints and not far to fall. Lacking the experience of “that won’t work,” they give everything a try. They are as delighted with knocking things down as building things up. They do for the sake of doing. It’s not about product, it’s about process.

What a gift it is that as adults we can re-discover this in our elemental times. When our prepped minds and bodies allow our spirits to take over and we can release ourselves into the work prepared for us to do; work that feels nothing at all like work. And very much like play.

It is not effortless but rather on purpose. We initiate it and then let it loose. We don’t push it. Don’t try to better it. Don’t compete it. Don’t compare it. It’s not a sprint to the finish, rather, more like the flip turn our body somehow knows how to do. We … duck/twist/tumble/slap/push/glide/stroke/stroke/breathe….

And time falls away. This is me, surely, but also something else entirely. A glimpse. Of thee, in me, and me in thee.

How delightful life would be if every day we gifted ourselves just a moment of this.

Back from the brink

If this past year — and if I’m being honest this past several years — have taught me anything it’s this:

There is always something new to be afraid of

And afraid takes you down the drain. Yep, spins you with the sludge until the current pulls you under. And, if you manage to hold on with your fingernails and hoist yourself out of that drain, tomorrow’s news will do the same all over again. If you let it.

Confession: I have done too much letting it.

In trying to find a way to matter in the world, indeed to love those who matter (all of us) in the world, I have let myself be pulled in, pulled under and nearly drowned.

Now, before those of you who know me personally start to worry, no cause for that. I’m good. In fact today I am better than good. I’m ready. Ready to get back to business. Back to the bread and butter of Kinesthetic Christian-ing. Which isn’t commenting on the days’ events and offering my take, but rather, taking what God gives me in each day and bringing it to life. Because in that, perhaps I can do my part to bring God to life in my midst and perchance in yours.

To do this I need to re-fix my gaze and adjust my footing. But not in a try-harder kind of way. In more of a go-about-your-business-and-I’ll-be-there kind of way. The way some of you out there have done so well. The some of you who have continued creating, teaching, inventing, investing and dedicating yourself to your work in the world. The work you do so well.

You know who you are. I am smiling at you RIGHT NOW.

Our world in our day seems regularly to take us to the brink. To dangle us over the edge and say, “See what you deserve? Look at that and be afraid.” And we are. Because it’s frightening.

But what if, right about then, when all is lost and we start to flail and panic and teeter into the abyss, we feel a gentle tug on the back of our t-shirt? Then, we inhale deeply and realize it’s the hand of our pickleball partner preventing us from stepping into “the kitchen” and losing the point. That hand pulls us back from the brink and back into the game. More ready than ever for whatever shot comes our way. After all, that guy just saved me.

As it is written, “in God we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28), but speaking Kinesthetically, we might say, In God, we move and live and have our being.

Because God has my back, I play better than ever. Better than I ever thought I could.

***

If you like what you read here at the Kinesthetic Christian, you may enjoy taking a look at my book, Made to Move: Knowing and Loving God Through Our Bodies. Contact Wendy here for more information.

%d bloggers like this: