Monthly Archives: March 2012
I’ve always hated showers. Give me a glistening white tub full of sudsy warm water, candles on the ledge, and a glass of red wine. That’s the way to be clean.
Showers are for the hurried, getting clean all in a rush of water hurtling down and straight into the drain–like getting caught in a downpour and giving up any hope of finding shelter before you’re soaked. Showers are for standing; you’ve got someplace else to go–and you’re going to be late!
Baths are for lingering, resting, enjoying. No agenda. No interruptions. Only peace. Warm, scented, slightly alcoholic peace. Taking a bath is my favorite form of centering prayer.
I’ve had some very profound moments, naked among the bubbles and salts and dripping faucet. Moments when God speaks, when my heart breaks, when I am listening. Moments of forgiveness, release, understanding, wonder. Moments of experiencing God’s tenderness, mercy, lovingkindness.
In these moments I feel like nothing separates me from God. I can lie back in the water until my ears are covered and my hair swishes like seaweed around my head and feel held, encompassed, hemmed in. I can stretch my legs one over the other, stick my big toe in the leaky faucet and examine myself exactly as God knit me together–my skin softened by the soap and salts and getting wrinkly from the long soak.
I can be fully myself in these moments, alone in the sanctuary of my white bathtub. In these private moments I share my most intimate, sacred self with the Creator. No cathedral, chapel, prayer garden, or monastery compares to the holiest of holies that is my tiled bathroom–with the steamed-up mirror, flower-shaped bathmat, and humming air vent that occasionally creaks when one of the screws comes loose.
That is my sacred space. That is where I am most spiritual–and most physical. That is where I experience God–in the bathtub.
This week I’m honored to host a beautiful moment in my dear friend Stacey Schwenker’s journey through experiencing her sexuality as a single person. She’ll be sharing her experience of getting naked before God tomorrow.
Until then, how do you get naked before God?
Since December, I have seen four different doctors and had ten separate appointments. I have undergone multiple tests and procedures–all to rule out causes of my unexplained fatigue. Now the doctors are at a loss. Perhaps I have chronic fatigue or some other nebulous disorder or syndrome. Such things are difficult to diagnose. But I think I know the real cause of my fatigue.
God as Surgeon
My spiritual director once said that experiencing God’s healing is sometimes like having a surgeon perform complicated, invasive procedures while we are under anesthesia. When God is doing this kind of healing, she said, it would be too painful and scary for us to be awake and aware of God’s work. So we are put to sleep. Then when we awake, our bodies are exhausted and need rest to complete the healing process the Surgeon began in us.
At the time, her analogy didn’t really resonate with me. I was in so much emotional and spiritual pain that I did not know how to let go and rest, allowing God to do the hard work. I wanted God to show me what needed to be done so I could do the work myself, understand exactly what was happening, and remain in control.
Looking back, my attitude was as ridiculous as my telling a doctor I wanted to perform my own open-heart surgery. Not only do I have no medical training, but I also would not be able to survive the experience of cutting through my own flesh. The pain would be too great, and the procedure would be too complicated. If I needed open heart surgery, I would have to trust the surgeon to do a good job. I would have to be anesthetized during the procedure, and then I would have to rest and allow my body to recover afterward.
God as Teacher
Ever since I completed my degree in 2008, God has been teaching me (ironic, no?) how to rest. I have slowly been learning how to let go of my over-active drive to DO–to be an achiever and to be productive. I’ve been a terrible student, I must admit, but God is an ever-patient teacher.
Despite my resistance, God performed a great work in me in the past few years, one that I am still not completely sure I understand or know the effects of. Now, my surgery is over. I have left the operating room, and the anesthesia has worn off. The hard work is done, and I’m awake!
Physical and Spiritual Rest
My body has been telling me for months that I needed to rest, and I just could not understand why. After stumping half the doctors in this town, I think it’s safe to say that it’s time to give up BEING AWAKE. The surgery may be over, but the spiritual healing process has only just begun.
Now I must endure a new season of recovery. I must allow myself to feel the effects of God’s work in me and give myself time to adjust and heal. That is how I choose to spent this season of Lent. I’m giving up my DO-ER spirit and allowing God to complete the good work begun in me.
So for Lent, I will sleep as many hours as I can. When I am awake, I will rest in bed as much as I can. My fast may not look very difficult or spiritual, but it is both. I am relinquishing control (again) and allowing God to take care of me–mind, body, and spirit.