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What the Body Knows it Remembers

My legs are a-wobble. Every half a step forward, a good bit sideways I go. Trying my best to stand still, I list to one side and then the other. Closing my eyes, I teeter — no, not exactly teeter — I tip, lean, crest a wave and recover to ride the next and the next. I roll.

In case you’re wondering, I’m not impaired — neither drunk, nor woozy. I’m fully awake, fully aware, fully cognizant, all systems go. It’s just that my body’s balancing system thinks it’s still aboard the ship where I spent the last week. In spite of all my other senses saying, “See, you’re on pavement. Solid ground. Perfectly still. Nothing’s moving,” my body isn’t buying it. It’s tuned into its own channel, plugged into its own input source, trusting its own instincts.

Funny, I have queried others who were aboard the boat with me and none have experienced this sustained rocking. My husband was totally terrestrial the moment we came ashore. Other friends had perhaps a day or two of remnant “sea legs.” But I rock and roll a good long while. Only over multiple days of walking on terra firma, will my body return to its former stride; the old way, the boring but steadfast, the everyday way.

Just between you and me, I prefer the rhythm of the waves. There is just something in me that finds home there. I wonder if rhythm is my default sensation.

It served me well on our expedition from the ship over to Espanola Island where paths were pretty treacherous: big rocks and very unsure footing. At first, my sneakers kept slipping; the harder I tried to find just the right foothold, the more unsteady I became. But when I found my footing by hip-hopping, one-two-ing, left-righting from one rock to the next, I kept my balance. Cha-cha-cha. Was anyone else feeling the rhythm or grooving to the beat? Probably not. Yes, embarrassing. Don’t tell them.

But here I am, a full week ashore and still rocking my sea-legs. Am I just made differently?

Makes me wonder if my first language wasn’t words, but movement. Before we speak, we move. Why can’t that be our native tongue? Can’t you just picture the moment? The Creator thinks, hmm, this one’s gonna think in motion. And not random motion but guided motion and choreographed motion. She’s gonna respond in motion and understand in motion. When she sees someone move, she’ll move, too. When she’s stumped, she’ll untangle things on the move. It’ll stay with her. It’s the way I’ll speak to her.

Why wouldn’t the one who created the winds and the waves, the storms and the calm, the rhythm and the rocking, sow this into us as well?

I must say, the rocking is gentling so I’m not in a hurry for it to go. It has a language of its own. Seems to speak in a very old tongue from the ancient of days, from before days, perhaps even before time, when that language of love that holds and rocks and caresses and cares spoke creation itself.

Before there was light by which to see 
and air through which to hear;
Before there was land on which to stand,
and an expanse of sky to draw our gaze upward;
Love was in motion.

Surely, it was.
And still is.

The Art of the Jump Shot: what’s God got to do with it?

We kinesthetics do a lot by feel.

We move in the space to “see” how big it is. We step outside to test whether we need a jacket today. When asked how long the table is, we spread our arms to demonstrate the size. How heavy is it? Oh, about like picking up _______ (something we have lifted before). No quantities for us. Our measure of a quality is its physical comparison with a previous interaction. We have this knowledge stored as a physical sensation. It is a memory retrieved from the body we bring.

So it just makes sense then that when it comes to deciding whether to put our faith in something or someone, we scan our physical recollection concerning this one or this thing. How does it “feel” to us? What do our “Spidey senses” tell us? Trust or distrust? Like or dislike? Engage or disengage?

Yep, Spidey senses aren’t just for comic book characters; they are for our character. We begin developing an internal sense of our outer world from the day we’re born. The more we interact with it — touch it, try it, and test it — the better sense of it we have. Not just by sampling, mind you, but by diligently applying ourselves to experience how things work and how we work with them. Not just with our minds but with our whole bodies.

Since it’s Final Four season and we’re feeling inspired, let’s work on our jump shot. Here is our process:

  1. Aim at the basket
  2. set the ball in our hands
  3. gauge distance and force required
  4. jump and shoot
  5. miss to the right.
  6. (retrieve the ball)
  7. Re-aim at the basket (with direction correction)
  8. Re-set the ball in our hands
  9. Re-gauge distance and force, if necessary
  10. jump and shoot again. (repeat)

Each time we shoot, the ball’s path provides feedback about our efforts, and the basket tells us whether they have been successful. Each miss gives us opportunity for correction. Each make gives us positive reinforcement. Our objective with practice is to bring our shot closer to our target until we make every shot. A natural by-product of our practice is a closer connection to our body’s physical sensation. We develop better feel. We become a better shooter.

But only if we have a target. Simply tossing a ball any which way against a backboard may provide ample exercise but it won’t improve our technique or our shooting percentage. To develop a “feel” we need an object of our effort and a measured intention. We need a goal and a reason to strive toward it.

No wonder the apostle Paul declared, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Phil 3:14) 

If this is a random running, we have little hope of success. We may put in a valiant effort, sweating hard with heaving chest and gasping breath, but effort for effort’s sake doesn’t win us the prize. We need to be focused on our target, the specific goal set before us. It is in the shooting, missing, correcting our aim and shooting again that we draw closer.

We kinesthetics do this, like we do most things, by feel. It’s how we’re made. But the process is part of all of us. Thank goodness, God is patient.

The curious thing is, if I really want to be my very best, solo practice won’t do it: I need an opponent. The one who wants to deny me actually makes me into the best player I can be — the one who can take it confidently to the hoop, no matter the score, the shot clock or the game situation.

What if we considered everyone and everything that stands between us and our goal God’s gift of perfecting us?

Got that feeling in my body*

Ugly words hurt.
Clashing colors make me nauseous.
Stripes with plaid make me dizzy.

Grim news turns my stomach
Loss twists my heart.
A word stabs
A look penetrates
Criticism batters.

Thoughts and experiences are, for me, physical.
I quite literally feel your pain.

Yet,
Accept me and my heart bursts!
Kindness enfolds
Caring caresses
Eyes that listen warm me
Ears that see startle me.

My body tells me how I feel.

I am especially susceptible
vulnerable
touched
lit
loosed
Easily ground down to nothing.

Yet,
sensitive
responsive
afloat
aloft
Easily lifted to everything.

My body tells me how I feel,
but not how to feel.
I tell it.

Fast ball coming
Take a two-footed stance:
Me (step) and Thee (steady)
We.

Ready.

*Thank you, Justin Timberlake

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