For most of my life, my body has been a teacher of lessons I often didn’t learn gently: e.g., energy limits; reality checks on life choices because I am female, not male; limits when I stretch for knowing beyond my intelligence or my human condition, etc. Now as I age, the messages come with behavior limits that have changed my life and I can’t argue with them so well: e.g. eyesight failing (stop driving, thus be dependent on others; also it is humbling to need the vision of others in order to use a bus or train.); hearing changes causing damaging pain from loud noises such as excited crowds or over-amped/malfunctioning PA systems (so I must wear ear-plug filters to public events and to church.) These changes, among others, separate me from people I love, care about, am interested in knowing and can no longer be with in previously normal ways. I don’t like to complain and I am not alone in getting old. (You are too!!!! It is contagious!)
So rather than complain (mostly), I have begun to pay attention to what I get in return when I cooperate. Some of these lessons have been life-altering in themselves, once I started to listen.
An example: At church, when I can’t hear what Mike is saying (in the mike) or when I can’t hear a Friend giving a message during Open Worship (again even in the mike), I have ceased my agitated frustrations and begun to settle down into a large cloud of peaceful love and silence–and this (if I pay attention) brings me an awareness of the person sharing words I can’t hear–awareness of their emotions, the motions of their hearts, their energy of yearning/joy/grief–and I feel myself “with them” in a deep way I am grateful for, that I didn’t often hear if I could only hear their words.
Another example: sitting in the cloud of peaceful love and silence, I can feel certain I have touched one or more of the Friends around me, even as I sit motionless and maybe even un-noticed by folks being engaged more actively. So when I pass through the crowd, leaving the Meeting Room or the Fellowship Room, to go to rest in our car outside, I know I have been with the Friends at West Hills in a way that has good and love-filled meaning for me. And I believe it when others tell me, “I’m so glad you were here today!”
And I wouldn’t believe this if my body hadn’t loaded me up with messages I didn’t ask for or greet with any happiness at the time! God has used my body to get messages through to me when other ways of knowing aren’t listened to. He doesn’t give up! (Thank you, God…)