Monday, June 4, 2018

Some Sun Breaks Through this Morning

How wonderful!

It immediately lifted my spirits but, with the headache, I wore sunglasses while washing dishes this morning. I must have been a sight. I've been experiencing a low-grade depression lately, more of a melancholia, really. Too many headaches, three weeks with grey skies and rain, another week of cloud and rain in the weather forecast, returning after a wonder-filled trip abroad just a month ago. Not having enough time to rest and recalibrate before the seemingly endless demands at work. An intense week at a homiletics festival, where we seemed drowned in the sadness of the world rather than in the ways God meets us in the human condition, what we call the Gospel. Good News. It's so easy to point to what's hard, to what's sad, to what grieves the heart or even breaks it. But it's powerful to be able to point to the ways we are met with grace and compassion in those hard places of experience.

Like in the sermon I preached yesterday. A beautiful image. A withered hand reaching toward a hand offering grace. And the space between them. That's where the magic happens. In the spaces between.

I woke with a tremendous headache this morning. Used a hot, wet compress on my face, a cold compress on the back of my neck. A shower to soften tight, hard muscles throughout my head, neck, back, and shoulders. I broke down and took a decongestant and an anti-inflammatory. Laid down, got back up. Laid down again. Basic management and deep tending to myself. The decision to not jump right up and hit the ground running today. Some grace for myself -- and some space to listen to my body and to notice what it wants to show me.

What's been withered in my experience? How am I, or have I been, operating with only one hand? That's a metaphor, of course. 

I think back to the story that formed the ground of my preaching yesterday, a story from Mark's gospel. Jesus heals on the Sabbath. It's so interesting because a person with a withered hand in that culture automatically lives outside the community. You needed both hands because they each serve a specific purpose. With the right, you eat from the common dish and engage in intimate touch with those you love. Like touching the cheek of a child or a lover, reaching over to hold the hand of someone who is struggling with something or simply because the touch and connection feel good. There's also all the social functions and exchanges that require the use of a hand, the right hand only. The left hand was reserved for personal hygiene and would never have been welcome in the common dish or in expressions of affection. So to have a withered hand, to lose the use of one of these important functions of life, engagement with others or self-care, a person like that is in deep need of healing.

And there's irony in the story because everyone is supposed to rest on the Sabbath. Built right into the story is a conflict around when and how to take care of the self and others.

Lifting up the story every now and then invites reflection around what might be withering in our lives. We need both - love expressed toward others and love expressed toward ourselves, self-love. So often, one tends to suffer in favor of the other. Either we ignore our own deep needs or we become so self-absorbed we fail to see, much less engage deeply with, the other.

It feels to me like there's treasure here. Like I've stumbled across a dusty old chest in the attic. I want to open it up and to explore what might be inside. Dust off the jewels and notice how they shine. 

It's a good thing the sun came out for a little while. It lets me see what's sparkling and what is dull and lifeless. A glimpse of sunshine seems to be the space between cloud and storm that have filled our days around here for a month. 

The Summer of Self-Love is a daily writing practice birthed on June 1, 2018 as a container for harnessing three months for thriving. The goal at the end is to host a dinner party. Sounds like an odd Hero's Journey, doesn't it? Most of them usually are.   

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