Lenten Series: Vulnerability
Updated: Mar 23
What happens when we are willing to be vulnerable? And why is practicing vulnerability so important for us as caregivers? That’s what we’re focusing on this week!
So far in the series, we’ve had the opportunity to focus on the first of the three components of a healthy spiritual life – sacred reading. We’ve affirmed our identity in and our relationship to God as the grounding force for caring for others.
This week we turn to the second of the three components – prayer.
Again, I’ll share Richard Rohr’s definition: “Prayer is sitting in the silence until it silences us, choosing gratitude until we are grateful, and praising God until we ourselves are an act of praise. Mature prayer always breaks into gratitude.”
For another picture of prayer, check out this poem. I love the way the ‘pray-er’ moves from ‘a cluttered mind’ to ‘a more perfect emptiness’. The poem also reminds me how getting on our knees and bowing down is a pretty vulnerable act.
In The Wounded Healer, Nouwen reminds us why prayer, as a vulnerable act, is so important.
After a lengthy description of a hospital visit gone awry he says this: ”….it seems necessary to re-establish the basic principle that none of us can help anyone without becoming involved, without entering with our whole person into the painful situation, without taking the risk or becoming hurt, wounded or even destroyed in the process.”
A healthy way of caregiving is to foster the ability to integrate our own experiences and understandings into our story and then be willing to share with others. As Brene Brown says, “The definition of vulnerability is uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure. But vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our most accurate measure of courage.” (The lectionary readings this week hold a similar paradox. They remind us of our human imperfection and our ability to offer gratitude and praise.)
What does yoga have to do with this?
Early on in Anatomy of the Soul, Thompson reminds us of the importance of the brain/body connection. He suggests that ‘many elements of our mind/body matrix are means by which God is trying to get our attention, but we have not had much practice reflecting on them…on what our bodies are telling us…”
Movement can shed light on places we are stuck not just physically but also emotionally. Think of your yoga practice as a moving prayer. Simple practices such as backbends can open us up to our own vulnerability so that we can share with others. (Remember to practice safely!)
Moving my body into different shapes [through yoga], I became a different person. Creating more space in my joints, I made more space in my mind as well. Twisting and bending and arching my body, I broke up the ice floes of self-judgment that had frozen in my muscles. I squeezed out the anxiety knotted between my shoulder blades. I melted the anger in the pit of my stomach into tears. — Anne Cushman, “Will Yoga & Meditation Really Change My Life?” by Stephen Cope
Here are this week’s opportunities to practice your own moving prayer!
Thank you for your courage: For getting down on your knees and on your mat. For opening up space in yourself to hold imperfection and silence and praise all at once.