About five years ago I had the privilege of witnessing a pod of humpback whales in Alaska. They were bubble feeding which is this marvelous choreographed effort, where the whales swim in a circle to create bubbles and disorient a school of fish. Then the whales dive down deep and then come straight back up out of the water with mouths wide open catching a mouthful of fish. Watching them dive and rise I felt their longing and was lost in their beauty.
"Rabbi Shalom Noah Barzovsky, the previous Slonimer Rebbe, teaches that there are three kinds of emunah (elemental trust): trusting mind, trusting heart, and trusting body. And the highest of these is emunat ha-evarim, trusting with one's limbs, where deep trust penetrates every fibre of one's being. The classic example he offers is the crossing of the Sea of Reeds. In that moment of leaping, he writes (in his commentary on parashat Beshalach), the children of Israel trusted fully in the One, and therefore the holy spirit rested upon them and sang in them (this is a Hebrew pun — ???? / shartah, rested, relates aurally to ???? / shirah, song) and song burst forth not only from their lips but in their very limbs."
Emunat ha-evarim — trusting with one's limbs — what an amazing image. As I move through this world, what are the practices that help me to cultivate this profound sense of knowing, trusting, and being that my body offers? We are not encouraged to trust our bodies in this culture, for they forever need improving. We can buy an endless variety of products and programs geared solely at responding to the message that our bodies are somehow not good enough, not beautiful enough, not wise enough on their own. This undermining of the body works in subtle ways, often I am not even aware of the messages I ingest.
This season ahead for me is one of profound trust, trust I can feel in my sinews and muscles. There is a pulsing within me that longs to bring me deeper into mystery if I will only surrender. In this time of openness, I am listening for the practices that will sustain me, guide me through. I wrote last week of being drawn to live more deeply into the monastic hours of the day. Woven together with this is a desire to let my prayer arise from my body, to listen to her dreams, to trust those dreams as sacred.
What is your body singing to you this day? What are the dreams it holds for you carrying you forward into the night?
-Christine Valters Paintner @ Abbey of the Arts
(view of the Olympics from the cottage on a clear evening over the Hood Canal)