Reaching . . . Extending . . . Chasing. . . What?

Reaching . . . Extending . . . Chasing. . . What?

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Reaching . . . Extending . . . Chasing. . . What?

This mantra plays through my head and my body like children on a jungle gym, swinging from youthful legs and arms, tearing new clothes, taunting, laughing, bouncing, running, ducking just out of my reach. I am conscious of some message they have to give me, but not yet bowed enough to hear the whispers of meaning between the shouts of proclamation. REACH!

I feel like I've been reaching for something for a long time, maybe my entire life. The reach I learned as a baby has certainly kept me exploring new worlds. I consumed books as a child, never satisfied until I found one more tidbit of information on the aardvark or Algeria or Aunt Sue's garden. I did not care what it was, I wanted to know it. But is that IT? Is knowledge of the world what I'm after?

I did book reports during the summer because I thought if I could just show the teacher that I was a hard worker, I could hold onto . . . I don’t know. The favored spot in the class? The other students’ approval? My own sense of self-worth? The little girl got to college and couldn't sustain it anymore. No one cared, because everyone else was reaching for IT, too. So, she had to switch races.

Reaching for bodily strength was a lot more productive, the fruits (no matter if they were bitter) were screamingly visible. No hiding the results of this race---success! With every step I ran or weight I lifted, my body grew more rigid with tension. I was ready to find IT, and I felt IT within my reach. Thankfully, I did not cross the finish line of this one, for I fear now what I would have found on the other side. Certainly not IT.

Three years of my life spent reaching for something that only led to non-life: loss of relationships, loss of health, loss of desire. The only thing I had was schoolwork. I must make up for lost time. So I began to reach for relationships; not just the occasional nice conversation, but absolute emersion in any opportunity to connect with anyone. Seek them out, Heather. Get to know all those people you missed. There's something there worth reaching for, and you’re pretty far behind the others.

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Chase after those opportunities, those normal college things. Try it all. You missed out, so now you gotta make up for it. Live the experience. Gratify your desires. They're real and legitimate. Keep feeding them. But this isn't IT either.

After taking Body Moveable, I am more aware than ever of my tendency to chase after . . . What? I don't even know . . . IT. Some grand cosmic event that will come swooping out of the sky, seize my eager chasing self, and use me in some mass feeding of Africa. Some enlightenment. Some radical commandment. Some demand of faith. Some impartation of the Holy Spirit. You know, IT.

But the repetition. The reaching, the futility of all I've chased so far. All is vanity and a chasing after the wind, yet I'm afraid I'll miss something because I'm not chasing fast enough. But if it's running away, is it my job to catch up? Why don't I follow Nathan’s example and look behind me or beside me, or stop altogether? I slowed down today, my spirit slowed, too, and I began to long for IT anew. Maybe as I've been reaching all these years, I've missed the joy of stumbling across the rocks, rolling in the grass, climbing the trees, splashing my face in the streams. Maybe IT is coming after me, a messanger, a gift, Truth. Am I ready to stop, yield, and receive?

“Why don’t you let me hug you, Heather?” a dear friend challenged recently. “What do you mean?” I asked defensively, “we’re hugging right now.”

“No,” he sighed, “you’re pulling away. You’re always pulling away. You won’t relax and just let me hold you.” His words stung with truth.

I am not comfortable with physical affection, perhaps because I’ve been reaching so much my whole life that I associate tenderness with weakness. I should be just fine on my own. If I let someone touch me, they’ll break into my world and make me soft. Nope. Can’t happen.

But this friend has entered into my world, intentionally, even though at first I tried to keep him out. He has awakened me to my need for tenderness, not because I cannot handle things, but because I do not want to handle things alone. Still, the idea of physical touch signals red flags in every muscle of my body. My body grows rigid, even though my heart is melting. How can I retrain my whole self to be comfortable with receiving embodied affirmation?

Once again, Body Moveable has given me a language to name what I need—yield. I can go through the motions of a hug, but until I let myself be support against another and encircled by someone else’s arms without flinching, I am not really present in a hug. The ball work has helped me especially with the concept of yield, as I imagine the ball to be someone else and my weight to be the gift I give to him/her. Of course, actual practice with a person is a much preferred method of learning. So my friend, my “messenger of truth,” and I have adopted “yield” in our vocabulary together. And the hugs have never been sweeter.
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