By Rev. M Barclay
In this culture of quick,
carving out time and space to listen to our own bodies, our own hearts, our own guts is urgent work.
To let ourselves speak, not just from the places that are always “on,” or the parts that know the scripts, but from the depths, the quiet places – where it’s only whispers and longings…
where, after all these years of criticism or neglect, wisdom has grown shy…
an invitation can go a long way.
“Do you know what nourishment you need,” my love asked.
I was extended an invitation that I will soon extend to you.
A timer was set. 10 minutes. No need to overthink, only respond.
What nourishment do you need?
I felt. And listened. And remembered. And wrote:
Things that are soft.
Room to breath.
And also holding.
[Life] that is nutrient-dense. (Nayyirah Waheed)
Rest, I suppose.
But still, challenge. And adventure. And labor.
I need words that remind me what I believe.
There are so many ways to forget.
So many reasons to be unconvinced of my own convictions.
So many causes for retreating into safer opinions and practices.
My body craves exercise. (And doesn’t.)
I need connection.
I need more that brings deep joy. delight. play. beauty.
I need all that won’t let me quiet the wrong things.
Everything that assures me:
all the longings for a more just and kind world
all the pain that comes from living in a world that is not
all the questions and hesitations and struggles and desires –
they are shared.
They are not to be dismissed with what oversimplifies.
Their hauntings are holy.
Lingering with them will satisfy.
I need feasts. And parties. And music. And wonder.
Glimpses of deer in my back yard,
traces of their steps in the early morning snow.
(What funny paths they sometimes take)
Fires. And hikes. And all the kinds of warmth my lover provides.
And because it is important to remember, not only the needs, but also the things already working, the things already known and practiced and present, a second question and another 10 minutes:
What is currently nourishing you?
practices of tending:
– eating and feeding with intention
– spirit work
– relationships and connections
– moving around leaves in my yard (raking, sort of)
Days and nights and mornings with my beloved.
Curled around, tucked close.
Hand in hand.
Even in heavy days.
Brevity. Ease. Lightness. Laughter.
Poetry. Always poetry.
The comfort of the heaviness of my new winter coat.
The care of community, even if too far-flung.
Encouragement I can trust.
Playing with stained glass.
Paying attention to my yard – its inhabitants.
Of things I can’t control
Of the need to defend
Of being or doing or receiving what is not meant for me to be or do or receive
Babies and family and love
Hikes and tents
10 minutes, and then another 10. That’s all.
Beloved, do you know what nourishment you need?
Can you take 20 minutes today – or tonight – to let yourself speak and be heard?
Write or draw or type or paint.
Maybe even find someone(s) to share your reflections with.
Getting in touch with the real needs and the already-haves of nourishment, of desire, of longing, of wisdom is part of how we stay present to the ache and the joy of the “one wild and precious life” we get…
It’s how we ensure we’re living sustainably, as best we can under circumstances and systems that would have us burn out or check-out or give-up as we labor together for collective liberation. (There are few circumstances where self-neglect is virtuous.)
It’s how we stay connected to ancient truths of survival and delight under all kinds of conditions of living.
These truths speak softly. And there’s so. much. loud. happening.
Take some time today, or soon, and listen to you.
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>Rev. M Barclay (they/them) is the Director of enfleshed. They are a leader with the UMForward Collective and formerly served as Director of Communications at Reconciling Ministries Network. They have also enjoyed working as a hospital chaplain, youth director, justice associate, and faith coordinator for reproductive justice at Texas Freedom Network. M is a 2018-2020 Culture of Health Leader with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. They delight in the strange, in hikes and theologies that restore life, in playing with stained glass, and connecting and creating with others laboring for something better.