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Stuck in the middle

That moment when you’re
r e a c h i n g
as far,
no, farther
than you’ve ever reached before.

Just a little. bit. more.
S T R E T C H I N G
further,
and further,
closer than you’ve ever been before.

Your thighs are burning
oh, it h u r t s,
but that’s how you get there.
Maximum separation,
until it flattens on the floor.
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That moment when you’re
. S T U C K .
Can’t go further.
Can’t get out.
Can’t get up.

One foot gone right,
the other so far left,
past pulling back, and well beyond shouting distance.
Here in the middle it’s
…aaaagonizing… and (embarrassing)

Must. choose. now.
rip and crumple,
turn and topple,
… S l i i i p p p i n g…
Now what?

Lift and pray.
Why do we wait?
Love wants to answer.
But true love waits
to be asked.

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.
~ 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8

Firm Outside, Flexible Inside

Inflexible, rigid, immovable, carved in stone…There’s a place for these, but in me is not that place. I’m meant to give. My body says so.

palms blowingI’m meant to be flexible, able to bend against the storms of life and not snap.

I’m meant to be supple, easily folded, twisted and worked into shape.

I’m meant to be elastic, stretching without breaking as forces threaten to pull me apart.

I’m meant to be pliable,  yielding to hands that refine and reshape as I’m put to use.

The world may call me a pushover, accusing me of giving way too easily, hesitating too much, bending too readily. “Stand firm for your convictions or the steamrollers of progress will flatten your good intentions, your bleeding heart, and your diplomacy,” it exhorts. “Dig in your heals and learn how to take a punch without flinching!”

That’s just not me. I’m made to bend, flex, stretch and yield. I’m meant to give so I don’t break, perhaps especially because my toes are wedged firmly under the cornerstone who is unmovable, firm and uncompromising.Pliable-Brain

In a world that seems often to spin out of control, it is good to know there is a place for solid rock.

All else is sinking sand.

Stretch to Strengthen

No one really wants to be stretched. Especially, not when it goes beyond what feels comfortable. There’s a certain out of control feeling when someone is pulling me and I don’t have any say-so in the how-far-they-go-until-they-stop. If you have ever suffered an injury or undergone surgery and then rehabbed in physical therapy, you know what I’m describing. Pain of a healing sort.

But once you get your range of motion back, you get to start on the strengthening. There are lots of ways to do this. Machines. Dumbbells. Steps. But when you’ve served your sentence you get sent home, often with a lovely parting gift. A resistance band. This band is meant to be your home exercise companion. And it comes with a wonderful secret:

When you stretch it, it strengthens you. A kind of reverse mentality. A give and take sort of relationship, gentle, safe and responsive. It pulls back on you with the force you apply.

Recently, I have been engaged by the folks at Upper Room ministries to address the relationship between body and soul, a connection I find inseparable. I’m a bit unusual in this realm. Religious folk tend to start with the soul and add the body. I tend to start with body and somehow the soul always speaks up for me. I thought the resistance band would be an easy way to make this connection.

So, I designed a simple prayer routine using the band and the words to the praise song, Spirit of the Living God. My daughter Stephanie’s lovely voice accompanies me.

My movement is prayer. The words are prayer. The music is prayer. But it gets better. At the end of this prayer/exercise routine, as the music ended and I rested the band down, I discovered the most amazing thing. I could feel the muscles that had moved the band. The effort, the stretch, the exertion of prayer was still with me. I literally could feel the prayer.

Of course, I had to try it again. Now I was aware of the energy, the symbiosis, the connection of stretch and strengthen, relax and feel stronger. It became fluid, flowing, moving. One motion into the next. Body and soul, together. Who in the world would think of something so simple? I think I know.

My thanks to the folks at the Upper Room for honoring my idea (and unusual approach) and inviting me to join them at SOULfeast 2013.

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