Lenten Series: Covenant
Updated: Mar 23
As a caregiver, where do you get your support? Where do you get your fuel? What keeps you going?
We could all use this reminder more often: We need a supporting relationship. We need a loving force in our lives so that we, too, can love.
Here’s mine: God has committed to love us (a covenant). We can’t make ourselves good enough for that relationship—it’s purely a gift. And it’s a gift we can share with others.
Think about a supporting relationship in your life (human or otherwise!). When that person shows love toward you, what’s the impact? Does it draw you to that person? Does it change the way you carry yourself? Does it make you better?
In The Wounded Healer, Nouwen describes our way of being in the world as a two-sided coin...
The mystical way (or contemplation): This is the inward journey we take through practices like lectio divina, practices that help us experience meaningful connection with God and all of creation. Contemplation is how we get in touch with our supporting relationship—how we help ourselves to recognize that loving support is always there.
The revolutionary way (or action): This way is just as important. In the revolutionary way, we are motivated to act. We believe we can relate to the world (and perhaps with ourselves) in completely new ways. We are motivated by a vision (say, to be a good caregiver), and our supporting relationship is a source of strength that helps us enact it.
As caregivers, we need both mysticism and revolution.
Nouwen paints the picture best:
“Jesus was a revolutionary who did not become an extremist, since he did not offer an ideology but himself. He was also a mystic, who did not use his intimate relationship with God to avoid the social evils of his time, but shocked his milieu to the point of being executed as a rebel. In this sense he also remains for modern humanity a way to liberation and freedom.”
Isn’t that what we hope for those in our care? True liberation and freedom? Yes, the temporary liberation and freedom from physical and emotional strain—but, eventually, a liberation that transcends our particular time and place?
Here are two “mystical/revolutionary” tools that can support us in this work:
Our sacred reading facilitates contemplation, specifically flexibility. Dan Siegel (The Mindful Brain) describes flexibility as “the capacity to adjust and change, incorporating new growth and learning into our mental matrix.” Flexibility allows our relationships (both supporting and caregiving) to grow! Perhaps go back to this week’s lectionary readings and, before reading again, ask yourself a few questions.
What preconceptions am I bringing to this reading?
Can I discover something new for me in these passages?
How might this discovery benefit those in my care?
Home Yoga Practice
You could ask yourself the same questions (above) about the yoga/breathing practices this week! In the yoga and mindfulness world, we encourage “beginner's mind,” which is a call to really pay attention. Cultivating attention is a great first action step in caregiving and for deepening our supporting relationship.
Without further ado…
This week’s home yoga seated practice, which you can complete in a chair.
This week's full body practice - we’re focusing on energetic pull and standing weight shifts.
May you find love and support in your practice this week,