It started with a lean and reach until both hands grasped the first metal bar, then the long, lean body followed, swinging to build momentum, spindly legs pumping as though wading through the air. Every day of kindergarten my daughter practiced the monkey bars with a focus that bordered on obsession. Fifteen minutes of recess, twice a day, found her crisscrossing the bars over and over again, walking back and forth through the air on calloused hands. Reaching the end, she would turn without stopping and repeat or simply swing backwards toward the platform.
I wrote last summer about Monkey Bar Living and how life can feel so precarious sometimes. I was facing summer at home alone with four young children, two crawling with focused determination and two exploring the world with boundless enthusiasm. I felt fearful and anxious as we swung wildly into a new phase of life.
But we survived and thrived and I started this blog and got some good stories out of it all and here we are now again, swinging toward summer with less than three days of school left. Those two crawlers are toddling now, head-strong and top-heavy and the bathroom closet is stocked with four boxes of band aids because I feel it in my bones that this will be the summer of skinned knees and maybe even broken bones as the older two strap on roller skates and learn to ride on two-wheels. Then, also, there’s the little matter of having sold our house with no idea of where we'll live in two months time.
We’re again in motion, letting go and reaching, swinging forward with one hand stretched open, the callouses growing as we practice this way of life, this faith lived-out. And I wonder how long it will take for me to be able to cross these bars with ease, to move from “grace to grace” as the beloved disciple says* with the same sort of confidence and assurance that radiates from my daughter’s capable limbs?
Author, Cynthia Bourgeault suggests in her book, The Wisdom Way of Knowing, that the spiritual life is composed of a series of embodied gestures, the chief of which is surrender. These gestures or postures, as Bourgeault describes them, aren’t primarily learned through the mind, but through the body and through a great deal of repetitive practice. So we sit and pray, we kneel and bow with open hands all the while practicing this act of trust that seems so counter intuitive, so difficult to wrap our grasping minds around. Or, we swing, leaning, and reaching like my daughter does, allowing a deeper sense of focus that resides deep within the body and extends outward all the way to the tips of our fingers, to guide us.
Over time we realize that our sitting, our kneeling, our open hands are as much the prayer as any petitions that manage to pass our stumbling, mumbling lips. The act of letting go, the act of moving from grace to grace is the prayer. In the end, we are silenced, as our prayer is transformed from words to being and we find ourselves home at last where we always have been - "in him."**
So, that’s where you’ll find me this summer, practicing again and again the art of letting go, in grocery stores and swimming pools and wherever the adventures of summer lead us. And maybe, just maybe, my husband and I will turn into some sort of spiritual Tarzan and Jane as we learn to swing our way through life, letting go to receive, moving, as always, from grace to grace.
*John 1:16 **Acts 17:28
This post is linked with Playdates with God and Tell His Story.
Image credit here.