In this season of spring, many of us are experiencing winter, with very little sight of its end date. For some of us, it is a season of exhaustion, loss, grief, strain, and chaos.
We may be experiencing trauma either first-hand or indirectly. And we may not even know it. For those experiencing this, the stress hormone, cortisol, can be heightened putting us on “high alert.” We may experience tension and pain in our bodies, our minds may be foggy or moving too fast. We can become easily triggered and highly reactive. Sleep may elude us – or maybe consumes us.
How God’s Love Can Be Your Fuel Amidst COVID-19
What does it look like to depend upon God to lead us during this time of chaotic noise? How do we connect, be quiet. How do we simply be? As Dave Hillis stated in last month’s Street Lights, the concept of “non-reactive leadership” may hold deep promise in these anxiety-producing times.
But how do we go about it?
When asked by an expert of the law what is the greatest commandment, Jesus answers,
When Helping Hurts
Notice how Jesus identifies the second commandment, loving our neighbor, as an outflowing of loving God—I think this is no accident. Jesus is saying come to me with all you got. Your loving me is the source of loving your neighbor. Your loving me really means surrendering to me – with your body, mind, heart, and spirit. In this time of “winter”, where the needs of those in our communities have escalated, the risk of burnout and unhealth becomes even more of a danger. In normal times and in this time of crisis, it is easy to flip the order of the two commandments. Loving your neighbor becomes all-consuming. And loving God somehow gets lost in the frenzy. But this is not sustainable –personally or organizationally. Along my own journey of working alongside many “street saints” — those who are living out their vocation of loving the most vulnerable in their communities — I’ve seen and experienced plenty of burnout, exhaustion, strained relationships, addiction, self-sabotage, and organizational combustion. I wonder if sometimes this can be a reflection of having lost touch with Jesus’ two intertwined commandments. So what does following the first commandment look like in times like these? How do we surrender all to our creator who asks us to love God with all of ourselves?
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.”Mark 12: 28-30
“Come to Me, all you who are weary…”Contemplata is the Latin word “to see”. Contemplative practices are those practices that provide us a way to connect with God with all of ourselves. They are practices that help us surrender all of our pieces and parts to God: 1) grounding our bodies enough to feel and release the tension and trauma we store, 2) quieting our minds enough to stop the constant egoic thoughts, 3) opening our hearts enough to be vulnerable and take down the walls of self-protection, and 4) being able to connect to receive the love, insight, and direction God has for us.
Through this practice of integrating these four elements into our lives, we are invited into a space to be still. To recognize God’s overwhelming grace-filled movement toward us. To be loved by God.
And then, from this place of being, we can move into doing. We can better hear God’s voice, we are integrated and strong for the task, and we can love our neighbor as ourselves.
A Brief Practice
Ground your bodyby gently stretching your whole body. Then bring your awareness to any tension you may be holding – especially in your shoulders and hips. Gently move to release that tension.
Quiet your bodyby inhaling and exhaling deeply ten times, expanding your belly as you inhale.
Open your heartby closing your eyes and opening your palms, imagining that you are carrying a particular worry or burden in your hands. Inhale, and as you exhale, imagine letting go of that burden and giving it to God, even just for a moment.
Connect to the Spiritby taking a scripture verse or a poem, and reading it through four times (as in Lectio Divina style), noticing what word or phrase jumps out at you, what the Holy Spirit may be saying to you, and your prayer or response. For a guided Integrated Pause video session, visit WinnSummitStrategies.com and click on Integrated Pause. On Mondays at 10 am EST, Angie offers a free “Virtual Pause” through zoom, which is a 30-minute integrated practice, especially designed for the “street saints”. You can find the invitation and other resources on the website.
She now leads Winn Summit Strategies and helps integrate contemplative practices for individuals, leaders and organizations, through consulting, coaching, workshops, and retreats.
She also leads yoga and meditation practices locally at her Loft on Main space outside of Orlando, FL.