The Healing Power of Movement, Food, and Community

As I reflect over the past year, I recognize the very healing that I’ve been studying and in which I’ve been participating. My eyes have been opened to real possibilities and the potential for everything to rise from the grave, for we are drenched in grace that will never fail us. Indeed, I’ve witnessed this on personal, local church, and global faith community level. The Divine’s incredible orchestration of our lives and organizations continues to inform the way I approach my life and my call, for I’m regaining energy I thought I had lost forever. Though not yet realized in its fullest extent, healing is on the rise, and I believe that much of it has something to do with getting my hands dirty, whether caked in soil or smelling of garlic and onions for our weekly soup, or dusted in flour as we shape dough. The embodiment of such an act, of being in stirred motion while our souls are stilled in peace, is an essential component of any community I’d want to call my own.

It has been a season of both aching and longing, one that was filled with pain in the assessment of wounds, the old bruises we never realized we’d sustained, as well as a time of recognition of tender pink scars and the evidence of healing. But this healing never came in a flash; it was never an easy remedy. Instead, it’s required patience with myself, with the Divine, and with my community to move forward into my own resurrection. It’s been a time of waiting, listening, watching in the pre-dawn inky blue sky for a glimpse of the sun, or at least a glowing evidence of warmth just at the horizon line. I knew it was always there, but I needed to sit in the coolness and dew of the early morning hours before receiving that which I sought: wholeness.

I recently picked up Nora Gallagher’s book Practicing Resurrection because it offered several beautiful examples of just this type of resurrection. Nora wrote of when she lost her brother to cancer, and in her honest and heart-wrenching reflections, she noted that her and her sister-in-law simply couldn’t sit still following Kit’s death; they had to be active, cleaning something around the house or else, at least moving in some capacity. Indeed, both in my own resurrection and the resurrection of communities around me, there seems to be some sort of necessary somatic response to such a death. There’s something within the grieving process that has to be dealt with through our bodies, simply because we must do something. We can’t just be in those moments of pain. In the kneading of the bread, and in the nurturing and harvesting of the soil, I found a way to process the wounds into my own resurrection. As Nora puts it, “in the compost made of old scraps, decayed matter, a new plant thrives and grows.”

Another moving portion of Nora’s work centered on her understanding of her call to the priesthood in the Episcopal Church. She explains her journey through the administrative side: a series of meetings with her various ordination committees; but she also addressed many personal experiences that continue to inspire her to discern deeply and be open to any and all possibilities. She was vulnerable to such openness, and she “though how the discernment of [her] call might be a larger working out of things left undone in each of our lives, … a fragility born of being left untended in dim and shadowed light. [Such realities] needed to be spoken of in a place that was like an intermediate room between two worlds, a place that wouldn’t break them, nor expose them too soon to the harsh air.” In the midst of the protective shelter of my community, I’ve been discerning my own call in the safety of a church that I knew loved me from the beginning. And in this development, I recognize that it’s now time to leave the tomb. As Nora explains, “there was something about [following one’s call] that was like resurrection. It was an invitation; it asked.” And now, I’m being asked, being beckoned onward. And all that I can respond with is: O death, where is your sting?

— Christy

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