The Dreams of Your Body

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.

Last week I read a post at Velveteen Rabbi about embodied trust which has lingered in my imagination.  She writes:

“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)

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7 Responses

  1. Tim, you ask some very powerful questions in your comment. Thank you for sharing those.

    You are most welcome yolanda, isn’t the NW the most beautiful place?

    Suz, I really resonate with your experience of illness, I have gone through similar times and clarity is certainly one of the gifts of living with limitation.

    You’re welcome Sally.

    Travel always gets me too Eileen. Thanks so much for the award! :-) I am honored.

  2. My body is singing for me to sleep … after an action-packed trip and a bit of jetlag. Of course, I did way too much yesterday and I am paying the price today. So I long for sleep. Humpback whales – the gentle giants. How I would love to swim along with them. Maybe I will tonight – in my dreams.

    Oh, btw, I nominated you for a blogger award. Come on over and check it out.

  3. Christine…Thank you!!! What a profound post! I have read it three times now and have a hard time answering because it was so personal and profound.

    When I became very sick ten years ago, I was on the verge of life “happening.” Well, my plans were dashed and life changed drastically. Two years bedridden, several more in a wheelchair and now I am gradually finding a new life. So the phrase that popped out for me was….

    “I know several lives worth living”

    I was having coffee several weeks ago and my friend said to me, “There are many ways to live a life.” Similar…

    I am gradually adjusting to this new, slower way. I have learned a lot.

  4. I loved this post.The photo is gorgeous and is much like the Coast Range views I have here in Oregon.Your words along with Mary Oliver’s today was what I needed to hear. Thanks.

  5. Another beautiful, thoughtful post. Mary Oliver’s poem is lovely, and your commentary, so insightful. Why are we so obsessed with our bodies? Mine is aging and I too often worry over its signs of the weary days I have absorbed. I keep seeing my elderly, frail father, now gone, in the mirror. We were not close, although he was a gentle person. His indifference, however, was such a wall to climb over. Am I fearful that I too carry some of that awful distance in me towards the people I love? That I am becoming smaller, disappearing, as Dad seemed to do? Perhaps. But I hope not. I do, though, need to listen to my body’s songs, and not the silent weeping I seem to often hear.

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