by Sister Chris Koellhoffer, IHM for February 7, 2016
NOTE: Special thanks to all who participated in our Spiritual Spa Day held at the IHM Center in Scranton, PA on January 30. This week’s blog offers a sense of that experience.
Please join us on April 23 for another day, “Naming the Deep Breath,” where we will cultivate mindfulness as a life practice, engage in forms of breathprayer, and explore the grace of deep listening in the ordinary moments of everyday living.
Spiritual Spa Day Reflection
We have heard, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Yet how do we truly love ourselves? How do we nurture our own soul and body as we also tend to our responsibilities of caring for our world through work, family, and relationships?
Since we cannot nurture others from a dry well, this day afforded us Sabbath time, a chance to assess our energy and spirit, restore balance, and move us towards wholeness and well-being through quiet, prayer, reflection, and practice.
A Spiritual Spa Day is a day for greening our lives, for nurturing ourselves as we also tend to our responsibilities of caring for our world through work, family, and relationships. It’s a day to experience Sabbath time, a chance to assess our energy and spirit, restore balance, and move us towards wholeness and well-being through stillness, prayer, reflection, and self care.
As we began the day, we named our own weariness, brokenness, and desire for wholeness that had brought us to the day. We held in our prayer the suffering and desire for wholeness of the many people we carried in our hearts. We remembered our Mother Earth, herself in need of healing, rest, and renewal. And we prayed for our sisters and brothers throughout the world for whom there would be no rest, no respite, no relief from the critical struggle to survive another day. We sent our compassion and prayers for healing to everyone in our beautiful, yet wounded world.
We reflected on the message of an excerpt of Robert Bly’s poem, “Things to Think”:
“Think in ways you’ve never thought before
If the phone rings, think of it as carrying a message
Larger than anything you’ve ever heard,
Vaster than a hundred lines of Yeats…
When someone knocks on the door, think that he’s about
To give you something large: tell you you’re forgiven,
Or that it’s not necessary to work all the time, or that it’s
Been decided that if you lie down no one will die.”
How true, and yet how challenging sometimes to put into practice in a world so focused on productivity, speed, and busyness.
So we focused this day on self-care, on salting our lives for the life of the world; on nurturing our own body and spirit so that we could be refreshed and renewed to continue our ministries of caring compassionately for others.
Our sister, Salt, had much to teach us about the spirituality of self-care.
In many cultures, salt is a symbol of healing and wellness. The Armenians salt their newborn babies. In the Catholic tradition, the minister of Baptism places salt in an infant’s mouth. At the time of the prophets, the Jewish people washed a baby in water, salted him or her, and wrapped the baby in cloths. Today, the custom is still followed of dipping bread in salt on Friday nights to symbolize God’s covenant with Israel, to symbolize preserving the contract between God and God’s people.
Salt is the only rock we eat. The human body needs salt for digestion and for the transporting of nutrients and oxygen throughout the body. Clearly, a certain amount of salt is necessary for our well-being and our enjoyment of life.
So for our Takeaway today, I invite you to reflect on how you are salting your own life and the life of the world.
Salt is a preservative.
In parts of our world where there’s no refrigeration, salt is sprinkled on food to keep it from perishing. So salt invites us to reflect:
What do we cherish? What is worth keeping and holding on to?
Salt is an enhancer.
It brings out flavors we might otherwise miss. So salt invites us to reflect:
What is already part of our lives that we may want to highlight and emphasize?
Salt is an agent of healing.
If you’ve ever had a cut and gone swimming in the ocean, you know how that stings and yet how the wound heals much faster after being exposed to salt water. So salt invites us to ask:
What wounds, what hurts, am I in need of healing? What are the wounds to which I’m called to minister?
Salt is a flavor.
We know that it can lose its potency over time. So salt invites us to ask:
What is needed in my life to avoid losing flavor, to remain continuously salty, and to flavor my life and the life of others?
Salt is a symbol of wisdom.
So salt invites us to ask:
What can I learn from the salty ones, the wisdom figures, those who have endured and who continue to be salt for themselves and for the life of the world?