Thursday, July 13, 2006

Faith and the body

Two Diocesan summer schools today. This morning was "Remembering the Body", which was really brilliant. We did two meditations, the first of which I found difficult but it did calm me down. The second was a breathing exercise we did towards the end of the session and I found it absolutely wonderful. The tutor guided us into focusing on our breathing, and "breathing in God". I wasn't sure about this at first, as I always find concentrating on my own breathing makes it harder to breathe and relax at all, but this time, and somehow, it worked; from nowhere, I pictured the woman in the Gospels who is desperate for healing as she's suffered from bleeding for twelve years and wants to grasp the hem of Jesus' cloak to be cured. It was, for a few moments, as if I was her, and inside I felt raw and desperate. When I grasped the hem of Jesus' cloak, he turned and offered me the whole cloak instead, sitting down and putting his arm around my shoulders so I could lean against him and just breathe. It felt really important, and I was overwhelmingly happy and tearful at the same time. I'm still feeling churned up just thinking about it. It's not often (and hardly ever in the last few years) that I've had - or acknowledged - that kind of experience.

At the end of the session, the tutor mentioned that she would be running a "Remembering the Body" retreat next year. God, I really want to go on it. Oh, and she also recommended "body mapping" - where you draw out the shape of your body on paper, together with a figure behind it - perhaps a faith figure, such as Christ - and then mark on your body drawing the things that matter to you now. I think I might do that sometime - it might help me get in touch with how things are with the physical me - and God knows how much I need that! I also liked the tutor's calling the body a "sacred space" - it seems more personal and internal than calling the body a "temple" which, to me, also seems distant and external.

During lunch, I (as ever) didn't want to talk to anyone else, so I ate in the car, and then wandered round the Cathedral shop and bookshop. No sign of a nice notebook I could use as a "Thanking Journal", so maybe I'll just try and find three nice things every day which I can add at the bottom of my blog. And there were no alternative (or indeed any) Bible reading notes that I could see - so shame on you, Guildford! I'll have to look in Godalming tomorrow.

In the afternoon, the session was "Faith and Sexuality", with a particular emphasis on same sex relations. Some interesting discussions, and acknowledgement of different understandings of the way we see our bodies. Thinking about it, I tend to see the body as "bad" and to be covered up - maybe if I see it as more part of myself, I might get more of a sense of who I am. Something to think about certainly.

And this evening was golf with Marian - very enjoyable, but I messed up the pond hole, darn it - again! Back home, the AA have sent flowers and apologised for the disasters we experienced in June, together with a promise for £50 compensation. To be honest, as long as I get the cheque - which is, after all, only a symbolic gesture - I'd be happy, but Lord H is not amused. Which resulted in a nasty row, and he's now gone off to his intellectual Diocesan Summer School eveningin a huff. And to be honest I'm not happy either. I think I should have a choice in the matter after all - I'm the one the AA neglected, not him! Ah well, no day can ever be perfect, can it?

So, three nice things which happened today:

1. The breathing meditation
2. Golf
3. The pink blinds in the Diocesan Education Centre, which contrasted wonderfully with the grass outside.

Anne Brooke

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