Dearest monks and artists,
I am so delighted that my newest book is now available – The Wisdom of the Body: A Contemplative Journey to Wholeness for Women – is a labor of much love and the work of years of learning to love my body as wise guide and companion, even in the midst of chronic illness and pain. Here is a brief excerpt from the introduction:
We carry a terrible wound: alienation from our embodied life.
Your flesh shall become a great poem.
Welcome to this journey. I want to keep saying that again and again. Welcome and more welcome. Know yourself – all of yourself – all your doubts and resistance, your body and soul, your joy and your grief are all welcome. My deepest hope for this time is that after journeying through all ten chapters, that you might discover yourself welcoming in even more of your beautiful being, and that places of resistance might begin to soften.
Two of the things I like to teach over and over are this kind of radical hospitality (which takes a lifetime of practice) and gentleness with yourself (probably because I need both of these so much myself).
Our bodies have this unfortunate tendency to carry with them a lifetime of criticism, analysis, scrupulous dissection, anger, betrayal, and more. It requires that we begin to remember ourselves, created out of such love. When one of my teaching partners, Betsey Beckman, offers up her Story Dance of the creation story from Genesis, she embodies God as creator, and with each act of creation she says “that’s good” with unbridled enthusiasm. Not in a distanced and unaffected way, but in a delighted and deeply celebratory way. Can we remember this? Can we imagine the divine uttering those words over every nook of our own creation?
The root of the word re-member means to make whole again, to bring the parts back together. We have been waging a war on ourselves for too long, tearing ourselves apart. As Walt Whitman writes, this alienation from our embodied life is a great wound we are each carrying.
What might it mean for you to allow your flesh to become a great poem?
With great and growing love,
Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE
Photo © Book Cover