A Confession & My Vow: No Leaning, No Slouching
I have a confession to make. I skipped right past talking to you about Day 4 of the Catalysts for Change e-course. Yes, I skipped past it and past you — whistling, averting my eyes, pretending not to notice. I skipped it because that was a really hard day for me to work through and I wasn’t sure I had the courage to share my journey. On Day 4 we were asked to Make a Vow.
“The idea is that you state your commitment in front of others. “Once spoken,” Lozoff explains, “you are bound. That’s the central power of vows. Honoring promises is essential for self-respect and any success in life.” -Catalysts for Change e-course, Day 4
Vows are serious business to me. I haven’t always treated vows as though I take them seriously (I’ve been married twice — so far), but what can I say. I am human, imperfect, fallible, but honest (mostly).
Anyway, I had sailed through days 1, 2 and 3, thinking, “Hey, this is easy!” (*see the end of post for explanation of “easy”). And then I get to Day 4. I put on the brakes so hard and so fast I’m surprised the neighbors didn’t hear the squeal and run outside to see what was the matter.
Serious business. Was I really ready to take this e-course and myself this seriously? Serious enough to make a vow? Yes, serious enough, but it wasn’t easy.
So here goes, my public statement, my vow:
Less fight, more Surrender.
Less resistance, more Action.
No Leaning, no Slouching.
Awake. Aware. Present.
“No leaning, no slouching” is my new mantra. I will explain it by simply letting you read from the chapter in Words for Silence: A Year of Contemplative Meditations, by Gregory Fruehwirth, OJN. (OJN stands for the “Order of Julian of Norwich,” an Anglican order of contemplative monks and nuns in the Episcopalian Church, living in community and of the Benedictine tradition in Waukesha, Wisconsin.)
“Human beings are not primarily thoughts nor emotions. We are bodies, living in space and time. Our physical posture, how we are holding our bodies, is a direct indicator of what is happening in our spirit.
“When we lean forward, our spirits are, as it were, lunging out of the present moment, eager to grasp the future. Another way of saying this is that we have become anxious and greedy. We are living in a spirit of anxious self-concern to get what we want. The present moment is gone, thus our eternal reality in God is gone. All that we are left with is the drama of our anxious selves lunging forward in time to get what we desire.
“By no leaning, I mean that our bodily stance is perfectly upright, which indicates presence, awareness, and selflessness. We are present in this moment to what is. We are here and now.
“Slouching, like leaning, is also a way of denying the sacrament of the Now and refusing the present moment. Instead of leaning through the present toward something else in the future, we slouch — we curl into ourselves and withdraw from reality, both present and future. This is especially tempting when we are sad or tired. We slouch out of the present moment, away from the future. We cease to be here, upright, where communion is possible. Slouching is a refusal of the moment, a refusal of others, of our life situation. We want to get away from it all.
“Can we live without leaning and without slouching? Can we live all of the time in uprightness, in presence, sharp and attentive? I believe we can. What it requires is practice. . .Simply by adjusting our posture we adjust our spirits, we align ourselves with the eternal Now that just is this moment in time.”
* If you are a Monty Python and the Holy Grail fan, think of the Knights at the Bridge of Death who are told they must answer three questions in order to cross. The knights are intimidated by the keeper of the gate. The first knight bravely steps forward and he is asked:
“What is your name?” then, “What is your quest?” and then finally “What is your favorite color?”
All three questions are easily answered by this Brave Knight. The Frightened Knight, emboldened by this, steps forward saying “That’s easy!”, shoving the other knights out of his way, eager to get a chance to answer the questions.
“What is you name?” he is asked and he answers grinning confidently from ear to ear. “What is your quest?” and he answers with arrogance and a careless, dismissive wave of his hand. “What is the air speed velocity of an unladen swallow?” he is asked and his eyes bulge as this question hits him hard. “What??? I don’t know that!” he screams as he is thrown over the edge of the bridge and to his death.
That was how I felt, like that Frightened Knight, thrown by the “Make a Vow” day.