Postures of Healing in the New Year
If we really want to change our lives, habits, and health, we must not only pay attention to our interior disposition, but bodily as well.
The New Year is always a sign of hope and of change even in the secular world. We are created for excellence, goodness, and beauty, and every cell of our bodies responds to the innate desire to flourish. We crave new beginnings! Because God created our body to be inseparable in life from our soul, our bodily movements are of great consequence, and our New Years’ inclinations to renew health and strength are fundamentally correct. If we really want to change our lives, habits, and health, we must not only pay attention to our interior disposition, but bodily as well.
In order to sanctify our movements and align our physical postures to a goal of healing, we must allow our bodies to become a living testimony to the healing power of Jesus Christ. That means becoming aware of our postures as an act of surrender, thanksgiving, and worship, in response to God’s will for our lives.
A Posture of Surrender
For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. ~ Matthew 16:25
During my college years, I was blessed to briefly share a residence with Franciscan TOR sisters. It was not uncommon to see sisters in the chapel, day or night, often in a posture of surrender. They would pray in a deep bow on the knees or fully prostrate before their Eucharistic King. I chose to stay upright on my knees or in my chair, but their physical prayer expression of total surrender changed the way that I prayed interiorly, and it would come in handy years later when I was a young mother.
It was during those years of new motherhood that I was caught in a cycle of chronic illness, depression, and fear. My body betrayed me. I set goals that I could not accomplish. Over and over again, I was crushed beneath the weight of failures. Every New Years’ I would begin again with the rest of the world, and every February, I would bury my sobbing head in my hands … and give up.
As I became weaker and more discouraged, I eventually hit rock bottom, with no choice but to surrender all failures and victories to God and to rebuild according to His timing, in His way. Instead of grinding away at my goals (fitness, relationship, professional, spiritual, etc.), I began to treat my body with the dignity with which it is bestowed by Christ. I became smaller interiorly, giving up my ego and fear of failure, trusting the outcome to the Lord. I also began to imitate physically what I had seen from the sisters. If I was laid low in a puddle of tears, I would extend myself onto the floor and surrender. I would beg Him for the courage and strength to begin again … and simply rest in His Presence…
I am so little, Jesus. I have nothing for You today. Tomorrow, I will rise and try again. At this moment, I lay myself entirely at your feet, broken and weary. Grant me the grace to keep trying. Grant me the grace to desire it. Be my everything.
A Posture of Gratitude
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. ~ Colossians 3:17
As I grew smaller in stature both interiorly and physically, I was no longer consumed by stress and fear. I was grateful for the freedom to let go of control and give it all to the Lord. I cleared my schedule and paid attention to the very small–but rightly ordered–actions that honored the gift of my body and, consequently, its Creator.
I knew the discouragement of having to say “I cannot.” I knew the stress of saying “I have to.” But I finally discovered the freedom of being able to say “I GET TO.” Little by little, gratitude allowed me to find a motivation outside of myself, to slough off the enormous obstacle of self-pity, and to move forward with enthusiasm toward whatever goal I had discerned.
Sometimes I would doodle pictures of the saints and I noticed that their arms were often extended in an expression of thanksgiving and prayer. It made sense. When the heart is overflowing with gratitude, the body can’t help but follow. We must find ways to express in our physical lives that which is so rightly ordered from the heart…
Thank you, Heavenly Father, for the abundant gifts of my life. My strengths are from you and for you. My weaknesses are allowed by You for my good and Your glory. I rise up today in the face of known and unknown trials, and I do it with joy… because I GET TO. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
A Posture of Worship
...let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire. Hebrews 12:28
Looking back at my Catholic school years, I realize that my peers and I pressured each other to suppress our enthusiasm for holy things. Eventually, many of us lost what we suppressed, reserving that enthusiasm for concerts and sporting events and things of the world. Now I understand…
The human person is created for worship. Physical worship! And if we do not lift our hands and voices in exuberant praise of the Creator, we will find an object (an idol) for that innate need. I have spent my adult life trying to recover that lost joy and rightly ordered expression of praise. As the heart and mind fall into love and knowledge of God, the body desires to follow.
It is no secret to Catholics that the liturgy is a place of true healing, but we forget how physical this need is; how much we need sacred space, silence, community, and physical orientation of our bodies and words towards the Beloved. Perhaps we also forget that we carry our own Temple of the Holy Spirit with us wherever we go.
With a bow of the head, a lifting of the arms, stretching toward His Sacred Heart, nourishing the cells He designed, standing in His sunshine, and maybe a little dancing-like-David in the heart of our homes… we can recall that healing of all kinds is possible when we pursue His holy Presence.
Lord, I want my life to be a gift of constant praise to You. You created every cell of my body for this purpose and then you united it with my soul. For your glory, let me grow in enthusiasm for worship… for total union with You.