Thanks to my graduation from walker to cane and a boot on my broken ankle, I now go up, and I go down. Six weeks after surgery for a broken ankle, I can now go up to my office garret on the half story of our house, as well as go down to the lower level family room.
Step by step.
Standing at the bottom or the top of the stairs, I think about the many times I have walked a labyrinth. Before entering the labyrinth, I set an intention and offer a prayer for the journey. How appropriate that seems now. I have shown over the last weeks that I can live well on the first floor--with great help from my husband and other family and friends, of course. I adjusted to the space and gathered what I needed to live as fully as I could during those weeks of limitations and confinement. But now another kind of movement is possible and necessary. My intention is to rebond with other parts of the house, with other parts of myself, as well as to encourage my healing body to rebuild strength and stamina. I offer a prayer of trust, "May I trust the Holy beyond and within me to hold me securely," and one of gratitude, "May I be grateful for the ongoing healing of my body and spirit."
Sometimes when I walk a labyrinth, I whisper a mantra, as I do for centering prayer. My father's physical therapist when instructing him about going up and down stairs after he had surgery a year ago said, "Up with the good, down with the bad." The meaning, of course, is to step up with the strong leg, and when coming down to lead with the leg which has had surgery. Ah, my new mantra. "Up with the good, down with the bad."
The Way of the Labyrinth by Helen Curry advises, "Don't rush this moment. Let it fully envelop you. When the stillness is complete, the moment will follow, naturally and at its own pace." And so I prepare to leave one level and step by step move to another level. When ready, I use the handrails and my cane and proceed cautiously and slowly and in doing so, my physical world expands. Practical and yet profound movement.
This, too, is holy. As I move with great attention or "gracious attention," as Lauren Artress says about walking a labyrinth, I realize step by step I am in the midst of a body prayer. My body is conversing with the Divine--amazement at how a body is capable of healing and a promise to take as good care of my body as I can. I move step by step, bringing my whole body, including my breath, to this process, taking nothing for granted.
Sometimes when walking a labyrinth there is moment when I wonder if I will ever reach the center and then all of a sudden, I am there. That's how it seems with the stairs. Before beginning, the number of stairs feels a bit daunting, but then all of a sudden I am there! The moment is almost thrilling. I am here! I made it!
Solvitur ambulando….It is solved by walking.
No doubt it will be awhile before I can tackle spring cleaning or go up and down the aisles of Target, but I can go up and down stairs and that feels major. Physical movement becomes spiritual movement.
What step by step journey have you been taking lately? In what ways has your body been your teacher and your guide? I would love to know.