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 The greatest thing we can do is to show up for our lives and not be ashamed.

 -Anne Lamott

 

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I offer it here because telling stories is the road back home.

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Wednesday
Oct172012

There's a squatter in my sanctuary

This morning, as I laid on the floor for my final vinyasa, this song came on:

Lord prepare me to be a sanctuary, pure and holy, tried and true. 
With thanksgiving, I'll be a living sanctuary for you.

 

I am taken back to middle school Christian camp days, when I sang this song with a kind of benign devotion, an unknowing flippancy: "yeah, yeah, make me pure. make me holy. I wonder if we'll have corn dogs for dinner again. help me to be a sanctuary...I sound really good singing harmony on this part..."

But in this rendition, I am struck by the incredible beauty of the words: a living sanctuary.

I lie, arms by my side, palms open to accept, eyes closed, and the pulse of the drums beats with my breath. I feel the rise and fall of my chest, and I am struck with absolute wonder: I am a living, breathing human being. All of these pieces and parts like an intricate mobile, perfectly balanced, intimately attached, suspended by one thin thread of life, and anchored to the ceiling beams of heaven.

 

I have found that in certain religious circles talking about the divine light, or about the holy nature of the human body, or about the supreme being in all of us is considered sacriligeous, or even pagan.

Forget about honoring the body, are we even taught how to pay attention to our physical selves?  Maybe the fear is that if I become self-aware, I will turn sensual, and the sensual will turn sexual, and then I'm tumbling down the slippery slope of promiscuity and vanity.

Maybe the fear is that if we become too conscious of the skin we inhabit, of the breath moving in and out, of the slickness of skin and the sinew of muscle, we'll forget about God within us. That our self-love will lead to all kinds of hedonistic behaviors. And the hedonistic behaviors will lead us to self-destruction.

Oh, how I disagree.

God himself calls us living sacrifices, a habitation, the resting place for the Creator Spirit that formed the entire universe.

He calls us sanctuaries.

Our bodies are temples.

If I am made in the very image of God, then I have infinite value.  And so does my body. It is worthy of attention, and honor.


The song goes on: Open my eyes. Illumine me. 

And the final words: May we be healed, that we may be a source of healing in the world.

I LOVE that there is always a SO THAT in the healing journey: I move towards healing so that I may be a source of healing.

My body is a sanctuary and I take care of it so that I can take care of others.

 

This is very real to me, more than ever, with four little ones to take care of. My four babes have been my reason to get up in the morning: for their sake, I have to function.

And yet, one of the most insidious thoughts of my depression has been that I do not have what it takes to care for my four children, that I am ruining them, that they will look back on these years and remember a non-present mommy. This line of thinking dovetails right into the other insidious thought pattern which goes like this: I suck.

 

Depression's mental bashing is brutal. 

Brennan Manning calls it "shoulding on ourselves:" 

I should be able to handle this.
I should be stronger than I am.
I should be able to snap out of this.
I should be a better mom than this.
I should...and on and on and on. 

The lowest part of my depression was when the shoulds were my reality; I could not convince myself of truer, kinder thoughts. These lies of failure were real; there was no resistance, the enemy was myself.

When I started visualizing a man, dressed in dirty rags, squatting inside my sanctuary, taking a big ol' dump on the floor, I knew something had shifted.  Because I could see my depression as something other than me.

It took on a personhood, but not my personhood. I became aware that the enemy was an infiltrator- someone who had broken in and was trying to steal and kill and destroy me.

Depression is an ugly, burly man who has broken into my temple, and he's kicking everything around, smashing my treasures, wreaking havoc from the inside out.

He's stinkin' up the place with his piles of should's.

 

My therapist, when she prays, she says, Inside this skin, behind these eyes, may I be present in this holy moment.

Every time she prays this, I let out a deep breath I didn't know I was holding. I am present. I am inside this holy skin. 

 

Through yoga, I am kicking out the ugly squatter, and his piles of should's.  I am learning to honor my body, to treat myself like a living sanctuary. 

To take care of this holy house, the only one I've got, in order that I may take care of those entrusted to me, and that my life could create a refuge for others to come and be taken care of.

 

 

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Reader Comments (1)

I read a story once about a person who looked in a mirror all the time. The person was depressed because all the focus was on self. No progress was made until the person began to clean the window to let the sun in and to see the beauty on the other side of the glass. The person really improved as the perspective was changed.

It is my impression that you are "stuck" in front of the mirror. Try looking out a window ... you have children ... start focusing on their accomplishments ... they need you ... start thinking about someone other than yourself ... bunnyfufu2222

October 26, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbunnyfufu2222

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