August 15, 2016
by: Jane Bishop Halteman
The more I read about the effects this election year is having on many people, even little people (as evidenced by this article), the more I realize the importance of finding ways to nurture ourselves so that we can be effective nurturers of others.
Celeste Snowber Schroeder in her book, In the Womb of God, says this: “Living in the womb of God, caressed by the touch of the Beloved, I am made whole and regain the strength to meet the next moment. As I learn to be present to God in the midst of the dailyness and clutter of my life, I begin to see that I live in the womb of God. God encompasses me as a mother and father caress their unborn child. The child cannot see her parents caressing her, but senses she is loved and known.”
No one taught me to be self-nurturing back in the day; in fact, left to my own devices I might have extrapolated from what I heard preached around me that self-care was another term for self-indulgence. However, in The Woman’s Comfort Book, Jennifer Louden makes it clear that self-care is anything but self-indulgent. “Self-care is not selfish or self-indulgent. We cannot nurture others from a dry well. We need to take care of our own needs first, then we can give from our surplus, our abundance,” Louden says.
That makes sense…it’s what we are told on airplanes every time a flight attendant reviews safety regulations before take-off. Don’t try to affix your child’s oxygen mask until your own is in place!
To use Schroeder’s terminology, then, how do we find ways to nestle into the womb of God? No two of us likely will take the identical route as we seek that nourishment from the Divine. The photography and journaling that nurture me might not offer you the same solace, though I hope you find some sense of renewal in the sunset and flowers and food photos posted here. I discovered many helpful suggestions about nurturing at The Spirituality and Practice website and recommend you peruse the site at your leisure to determine what most nurtures you, but here are a few suggestions that caught my attention.
These excerpts from the book Whole Detox by Deanna Minich reveal some ways to detox one’s spirit in terms of which activities to choose and which to avoid. Choose quality time in nature, she says, and peaceful contemplation and reflection as well as rest and rejuvenation. Her advice is to avoid sleep disruptions and overeating or, on the other hand, forgetting to eat.
In a collection edited by Tami Simon called Darkness Before Dawn, Robert Augustus Masters addresses the importance of crying as personal nurture. “Crying ought not to be something we outgrow. Deeply felt tears can be profoundly healing—at any age. When we weep, we open the heart, ease the belly, quiet the mind, soften the body. It is a loosening up and deep cleansing, a washing-out not just of psychic debris but also—at least to some degree—of biochemical waste. The composition of emotional tears is different than that of tears that result from cutting onions or from an irritant in our eyes. Emotionally shed tears contain more toxins (much like sweat does)—thereby helping cleanse the body—but also contain leucine enkephalin, an opiate. So such tears both cleanse and ease us.”
Flora Slossen Wuellner, one of my favorite authors during my early years of adventuring into contemplative spirituality, offers this advice about praying for herself and others as she opens to the “inner flowing.”
If you are looking for more on the spiritual practice of nurturing, check out this Spirituality and Practice website feature on films on that subject.
Here’s a delightful story about a bride who was walked down the aisle by the man who received her father’s heart. Read it, and be alert to nourishing occasions which come into your life this week, bringing renewal and healing so that you can help facilitate the same in the lives of others.