I’m writing this a day after receiving word that I’ve won the Wilbur Award from the Religion Communicators Council for the best non-fiction book about religion for 2013. As you can imagine, I’m over the moon, bursting with joy, gratitude, love for everyone and everything, well-being, affirmation, and an extraordinarily comforting feeling of closure on a project I worked on for 19 years without knowing if anyone else would ever read or benefit from it!
Since today is the only time I have to write the next post if it is to be published at its usual time, and since I tend to be a stickler about meeting deadlines, I’ve struggled all morning to write. My intention was to wrap up my series about gender wounds, but I just couldn’t do it. I reviewed the last several posts and went through my notes in search of ideas, but my heart wasn’t in it and nothing came.
Recognizing the symptoms of an ego determined to ignore a blocked stream of energy because it believes it knows a better way, I lit the candle on my desk, rested my hands on my lap, closed my eyes, focused on my breathing, and waited for guidance. Instantly, a technique recommended by Martha Beck, author of Finding Your Way In a Wild New World, came to mind. Beck explains how focusing on your body drops you into a state of heightened receptivity she calls Wordlessness. So I lifted my hands in front of me, palms outward, and concentrated on feeling the life in them. As soon as I felt the tingling, a familiar shivery wave started at the back of my neck and spasmed down my back.
I’ve felt this same shivery spasm since the early 70’s. I tell this story in my book so won’t repeat it here, but what happened is that after weeks of seeking help for a troubling period of religious doubt, I experienced a mind-blowing spiritual awakening that convinced me of the physical reality and presence of the Divine. After that I often felt the shiver in church and associated it with the supernatural God of my religion. Now I know that what we often think of as supernatural is as natural as heartbeat and breath.
Fast-forward forty years. Symbol Alert! According to The Herder Dictionary of Symbols forty is the number for “expectation, preparation, penitence, fasting, and punishment.” The flood flowed for forty days and forty nights, Jesus was tempted for forty days in the wilderness, the Jews wandered for forty years in the desert, and I discover to my amazement and delight that it took forty years of preparation before I was ready to produce the book I consider my magnum opus!
Today I’m filled with the joy of having this work recognized. This is what wants to come out, what I want to celebrate with every breath, beat of my heart, and cell in my body. This morning my ego was saying: Stick to the topic at hand. If you write about the award it might sound like bragging! And so I experienced a writer’s block, which is simply a resistance to expressing the soul’s truth. The moment I returned to the present by focusing on the life in my body, the block dissolved and the energy came through with a physical rush that felt like a tidal wave surging down my spine.
Here’s the song I want to sing: God isn’t only to be found in a church, synagogue or mosque. Sacred life-giving energy indwells our bodies and every atom of the physical universe. And all we need to do to connect with it is get out of our heads and return to our bodies where the Divine is incarnated in us.