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I am that child

I just can’t imagine God saying, “Sit down and shut up!” Can you?
Or, “Children should be seen and not heard.”
Or even, “Sit still and mind your manners.”

Yes, we are children, daughters and sons of the Most High. But, “sit up and eat your peas,” just isn’t the conversation I expect to have at the table with God. Odd, though, that if we grew up in harsh strictness and belittledness, if we were ignored, disrespected, or God help us, abused, this notion of being children at the right hand of a father takes on an unwelcomeness. In self-preservation we learn to keep quiet and stay out of the way.

God has never been a God of self-preservation. Certainly not for children.

Yes, holy discipline surely is God’s kindness, that we learn to observe boundaries, respect rules and honor elders helps it go well for us. But sit still and be quiet … that just doesn’t feel like God to me.

In the space at God’s feet there is plenty of space to get the wiggles out. I imagine God chortles at my antics and shakes a head at my mischief, but confines me to one square foot on the rug? Nah. No loving parent would think that a good thing for a child.

And I am that Child.

To me, God has always said, go ahead and move. It’s way easier, then, to guide me in the right direction. That way, overcoming inertia will never be God’s problem with me.

My book, Made to Move: Knowing and Loving God Through Our Bodies, takes this approach. God made us to move and, through movement, to learn about and grow into ourselves. Of course, once we’re mature, a good dose of self discipline can help us still the outside so we can attend to the movement inside.

Lungs…expanding and releasing.
Muscles…stretching and lengthening.
Joints…relaxing and allowing.
Blood… coursing and flowing.
Thoughts…expanding and defining.

And there’s life itself, feeling kind of like it did when we were a kid. I am God’s kid and so are you. Let’s go ahead and act like it.

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Activism or Love in Action?

I was an activist way before is was trendy. Today, an activist is:

“One who takes vigorous action or pursues involvement as a means of achieving political or other goals, sometimes by demonstrations, protests, etc.”

If you are taking action toward your cause or your goals, you’re an “activist.” It seems like everyone in America is an “activist” these days.

Except we’re not. America today is anything but active. In fact, we’re setting new records for our inactivity. Physical inactivity, overweight and obesity are overrunning us. While health organizations plead with us to do a measly 30 minutes of daily exercise, we’re rushing to get our fast food so we can hurry back into “action” at our desks and computers.

We are activists without the activity! Absent is the healthy activity that can heal us, help stabilize our blood sugar and moderate our mood swings.

What’s the opposite of activist, anyway? anti-activist? in-activist? Sounds like a disease or an over-the counter-medication. Nobody wants to be that!

No. We need to emerge from this pseudo-activism into full-fledged action. We are all activists. We were born that way. We’ve just let that sag a bit. We are meant to take action; it’s what our bodies were made for.

We need to be present, to march, or gather, to protest or counter-protest, to be there in person, to show up. We need to put our bodies on the line, any line. That’s the gift this generation’s version of activism has given us. Let your unique and singular voice be heard in person and in action – carry signs if you like. Connect with like-minded folks, as you like, but also with those of unlike mind. That is the nature of taking action.

We do this from the platform we build for ourselves – not a stage or a podium – but a solid place. A hillside of sorts, a village green, where grains of soil, layered day by day, watered by gentle rains, are held fast by the roots of newly greening grass and sapling chutes. What we plant, tend and nurture may one day grow to give shade there.

Without such a platform, erected and built painstakingly by the physical labor of love, we are just resounding gongs and clanging cymbals, echoing the words of others rather than thinking for ourselves and standing for what we believe in.

Have you seen this image?

wheelchair vet stands for flag

As the flag of America passes by, the only one standing is the man in a wheelchair. Perhaps he’s the only one who sees something worth standing for. 

Activism or love in action?

By all means, sit for the American flag if you must to express yourself, but if you do, please stand for something else that gives your protest meeting. Activism absent activity is worthless. We must define ourselves not by what we’re against but by what we’re for. And then … take action.

All in. Heart, soul, mind and strength. There is no such thing as believing in, without acting for. We are of one nature, not two. What we’ve been given, we’re meant to use.

I’m an activist. I was born that way.

So are you.

Born to Cheat

photo credit: Roger May

Photo credit: Roger May

I always look for the shortcut. You know, the easy way. The way around. Why would I bother taking the long road when there is a perfectly good way to cut the corner that would make it so much easier? And quicker. I am just being efficient here. Blazing a new trail that, perhaps, will become the way everyone does this. Just come on, follow me.

Is that cheating?

This occurs to me as I watch the young athletes who are growing into newly elongated bodies. Awkward and unbalanced, the old rules of movement no longer apply. They tip and topple. Embarrassed, they try again and the same thing happens. Down they go. Something’s got to change.

They don’t plan this. Their body does it on its own. It modifies the movement in a way that accomplishes success. Instead of pushing off straight ahead, the foot turns outward to broaden its base of support. Voila! Balance. They blast off with their teammates, just like before. Except now, their push off recruits fewer muscle fibers to do the work and is activated at an oblique angle. It works, but it’s inefficient. They tire sooner, get sore, and often end up injured.

Who’s to blame? Their bodies? They were just compensating. Taking a short cut in order to remain effective. Growth is hard. In order to keep going the body does what is necessary to meet the demands. It cuts corners…naturally.

Isn’t that interesting? A built-in cheating mechanism, through no fault of my own. Inborn. Adaptive. Effective. Until it injures. Sounds a bit like “sin,” in the way I have had it explained to me. Something we’re born with that takes us off track. A condition we’re in. Indeed, a condition the whole world is in. One look at any days’ headlines will convince you of that.

But the experience of this in myself is harder. I feel responsible for it. I know it’s there, but somehow it’s hard to avoid. When conditions change or things get hard or growth is necessary and patience required, I default to the easy way. It’s sort of a knee jerk reflex. A compensation. A short cut. Done over and over, it becomes my new go-to. Soon, my muscles memorize it and it becomes my natural way. All without my conscious awareness, until someone points it out.

Then, I can justify it. It makes sense to do it this way, I convince myself. Why make things harder than they have to be? Certainly God understands. And God does. He knows our natural tendency to sin, to separateness, to self-sufficiency.

Perhaps the tiredness is meant to get our attention. If not that then the soreness. But if we persist, the injuries stop us for sure. It’s our Father’s 1-2-3 admonition. You have till the count of three. One…two…

What grace to be given the warning. And to be shown the reality:

  • it’s in us
  • it’s natural
  • it’s modifiable

If we pay attention, there is wisdom that says, “This is a temptation for you. Slow down. Take your time. Do it right. Do it well. At the right time, your body will respond as it’s meant to. As I meant it to. Follow me.”

When I insist on going my own way, I avoid the whole conversation. I start bush-whacking through uncharted territory, and soon I am out of earshot. Then I grow tired and sore and begin to limp. Probably better to turn back before I injure myself.

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