I have lost the last month of activity due to a bout with sciatica, which in my case is enabled by a life long habit of walking and sitting out of balance. The right side of my body has been carrying most of the freight of my balance most of my life, and I learned when I first encountered this condition that with physical therapy and exercise, I could amend this imbalance, were I to be faithful to those practices. But, I allowed other, more accessible, more interesting, more appealing activities to overtake those necessary practices, and there it was: a flare up of the old malady.
I am making progress in redressing in imbalance, but was reminded that my own malady is an embodiment of so many things in our world right now. So much is out of balance–in our environment, in our allocation of resources needed for living, in our political processes, in our church identities, in our relationships, in our own calendars and planners, in our own estimate of our own value and worth. How did we get so off kilter? What have we allowed to take over our perspective and values? Where have we allowed ourselves to be pulled and pushed off the Center?
In my recovery as I have tried to re-calibrate my body, I have had to ask two questions. First, how do I keep myself in touch with the core, the organizing One of my life? My discomfort threw me out of my regular extended practices of prayer and reading, so what brief but constant connections do I need to be making? I found that in this time, since I was so focused on my body already, I could really use breath prayer to remember Who made me just the way I am, the Spirit who lives within me to heal, to energize, to teach, to give me Life. I also found that the music of my life was accessible in the heart as I tried to go to sleep, as I walked, as I re-established my patterns of exercise: “Loving God, here I am,””Peace, be still, the storm rages, peace be still,” “Jesus, lover of my soul, let me to thy bosom fly…” In addition sacred words, repeated in my heart kept me on target: In life and in death, I belong to God. I remembered that in my tradition, the first act of spiritual practice is to give thanks, so I resurrected my gratitude list, recalling every day what gifts I was being given: a new iris in the front yard, a surprise phone call, a new author or piece of music, a coming together of a project. Thank you God for everything!
In addition to to my own practices, in order to restore my own balance I need the help of others. In my first attempts to begin healing, I couldn’t walk very far without the help of a companion, usually my husband. I have begun walking around the block now, but having had the occasional setback, I still need to hang on during the treacherous parts of upturned pavement, the sharp turns or the surprise lurches. I have needed to ask people to drive me places that are farther than my leg can sustain. I have needed to invite people to come see me at home, rather than go to them. I need a community of people willing to help me out.
When I look at our global and national imbalance, I am conscious that it is only together that we can restore the balance of Spirit that we need so desperately. Therefore, I am so grateful for every voice that calls us to those practices of prayerful action that turn us toward the Holy One, toward God’s intent for justice with mercy, that articulates our call to speak peace even as we pray for our enemies. I need exemplars to give me courage and a template for returning good in the face of evil, for being peace in the midst of chaos, for bringing wholeness in the broken places; for every one who has made herself heard in this way, I give thanks.
Among the things that this latest physical setback has taught me is the fact that striving toward balance is a constant work in progress. I need to be vigilant and faithful in my exercises, mindful of the way I carry myself, observant of those patterns that let me slide. The day of ultimate perfect eternal balance may not come in my life time, but in my own person and in my participation on the world God made, with the compassion and energy of the community, I need to keep up the holy work of finding balance for the healing of us all.
Thank you for this word. Balance is truly exactly what we need in this chaotic world — the interior one as well as the exterior. ❤
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Thank you for these thought in metaphor and embodied.(also from a fellow sciatica sufferer!)
Oh, this is beautifully written, Liz. And I relate. We’re just back from a too-long road trip (2500 miles) for folks in their 70s and I had a couple of days of such fatigue that I felt deeply anxious. Only breath prayers and memorized words can help me through those times. And being grateful. I so hear you on all of this. Thank you.
Our bodies certainly find ways to communicate to us the depth and breadth of human experience. Hoping for continued progress…
Gaye Clark said: