The Body’s Grace

Last week, I took a short day trip into the city to get my hair done and spend time with a dear college friend. On the way, I listened to Krista Trippet’s Speaking of Faith episode on Matthew Sanford: “An unusual take on the mind-body connection with author and yoga teacher Matthew Sanford. He’s been a paraplegic since the age of 13. He shares his wisdom for us all on knowing the strength and grace of our bodies even in the face of illness, aging, and death.”

I thought it was crazy-inspiring to hear about such a remarkable person, who suffered an incredible tragedy to his body…do something positive and meaningful with his life that actually requires the use and engagement of his body. I love Sanford’s connectedness and the reminder that this connectedness is a discipline, and something that is necessary; it should actually be natural. Of course, all our “stuff” acts as noise that drowns this out so it makes it difficult, and for those who experience any kind of trauma to the body, whether accidents or surgeries, the severing of the mind-body connection is often a coping or defense mechanism. There were some really restorative words for me, particularly his emphasis on “healing stories,” which I understood to be those narratives we have to dictate to ourselves that lead us on to some kind of healing path. For Sanford, this meant, when he was first dealing with all the trauma to his body, stories that made him see how much his family needed him – he felt he couldn’t give up for the sake of being there for his family.

I think this will be my last “installment” on grace for now…Once again I’m reminded of the necessity of words and narrative for both our minds and bodies. Whatever I am going through I have a choice to listen to the words of cynicism and despair or hope and healing…of grace – and they will shape my very life.