JULIAN OF NORWICH experienced severe bodily pain when she was thirty years old. It was during her illness that she received visions, which she later recorded in Revelations of Divine Love. Though I don’t wish physical suffering on anyone, when we welcome and witness our body’s sensations with openness, we are also open to Presence in a way that is less mediated by the mind (which is, for many of us, the primary conscious filter).
Julian wrote, “The fruit and the purpose of prayer is to be one with and like God in all things.” Take a few minutes to let your heart and mind’s attention sink deeper into your body, to remember your being’s inherent oneness, through these simple words, postures, and intentions (the words are from the Order of Julian’s motto):
AWAIT (hands at waist, cupped up to receive): Await God’s presence, not as you expect, hope, or imagine, but just as it is in this moment.
ALLOW (reach up, hands open): Allow a sense of God’s presence (or not) to come and be what it is, without meeting your expectations.
ACCEPT (hands at heart, cupped towards body): Accept as a gift whatever comes or does not come. Accept that you are not in charge. Accept the infinity of God’s presence, present whether or not you are aware.
ATTEND (hands outstretched, ready to be responsive): Attend to what you are called to, actions that God invites you to from this stance of openness.
six gestures of morning praise
Joyce Rupp has written one of my favorite body prayers (found in her book Out of the Ordinary):
Each morning when I arise I begin the day with these six gestures. I join spirit and body in praising the Holy One and offering my thanks for life. As I do the gestures I say a one line prayer and then remain in that posture for a brief time.
1.Offering the Creator praise and gratitude: Stretch your arms high and wide above your head. I thank you, Holy One, for the gift of another day of life.
2. Intentionally being aware of my spiritual bond with all of creation: Hold arms out from your sides, a little below shoulder height. Move (pivot) to the left and to the right with your arms stretching outward toward the cosmos. I reach out in compassion to my sisters and brothers throughout the universe.
3. Offering my life to the Holy One: Stretch your arms out straight in front of you, slightly apart, palms up. I give to you all I am and all I have.
4. Opening to accept what the Holy One offers me this day: Pull your hands close together and cup them as container. I open my entire being to receive the gift that you have waiting for me in this new day.
5. Remembering to be kind to our planet Earth: Bend over, reach down, and touch the floor, or better yet, the ground, if you are outside. I touch this planet, Earth, with awe, reverence, and gratitude, promising to care well for her today.
6. Awareness of the indwelling presence of the Holy One: Stand up, cross hands over your heart, and bow to the waist. May I be united with you throughout this day, aware of your love strengthening me and shining through me. Amen.