Trusting Gravity

There is this thing that bodies do:
Some do it less than we would like,
Some do it more than is helpful,
And maybe there are a handful out there who do it just right,

There is this thing that bodies do,
Which is to hold feelings at bay
Until it is safe to feel them.

Last week my parents in Oklahoma got their Covid-19 vaccines
And sent me a secret selfie, though photos weren’t allowed.

I shocked myself with weeping, when the message came through,
Sobs so wracking I can feel the echo of them
In my chest right now as I speak to you.

Their protection shifted some tectonic plate
I’d been just barely keeping in place,
And the crushing worry I had not known I was holding,
erupted, hot adrenaline and hope filling my veins.

Overtaken by tangled fear and relief,
I sobbed and snotted, and lay wrung out in bed,
Phone glowing next to me with bandaids and big smiles.

We have all learned a terrible skill this year
One some of us already knew very well,
Taught by world-tilting grief in endless nights,
Or at our mother’s knee as she prepared us for a world built to break us.

We have learned this terrible skill:
How to push past what is possible to endure.
How to go about our lives when the bottom has fallen out.
How to pile more upon arms overflowing,
swallow it down and button it in so we are not overcome.

It is a necessary terrible skill,
small as we are in the vast universe,
unrelenting as life tends to be
and even worse the deadly systems we create.

If we felt all the worry, all the hunger, all the grief, all the rage
at once it might kill us. So we sip slowly,
and our muscles and bones soak up what we cannot yet swallow.

Until
we make it to a resting place,
a way-station of solid ground beneath our bodies
and collapse,
shaking with the effort of all this holding in, all this holding on.

It happened to me again yesterday, when our community organizer Brittany
Sent me an update from the migrant justice team.

Deportations halted, it read.
Lawyers are drafting letters that will become freedom.
And you know those parents separated from their babies?
They’re bringing them back.

I crumpled to the couch and wept.
We have so much to grieve
now that a new day has brought us a moment to breathe.

And if your muscles are aching from all of the clench and wince.
Of four years or forty or four hundred
You cannot forget sometimes, to pry your fingers from the wheel
And let gravity bring you down to your knees.

Fall, if the ground around you is soft.
Weep if you want, or stare at the wall, or scream.
There are a million ways to feel,

to bring all that you’ve pushed away
up through bone and blood and move it out and through.
To loosen and bend and stretch and be.

Just don’t forget.
Don’t keep marching on past this space,
Without noticing that maybe now for a moment it is safe.

We will each reach a place to stop and feel
And mend and heal,
Before we pick it all back up and keep going again.

And if this isn’t your space and today isn’t your day,
I think your body knows the way if you are listening.
Look for that spot where the ground is plush.
And the gravity is faithful.
And the Earth will hold you.

…..

This month at the church I serve we’ve been talking about staying grounded. Which is kind of hilarious because this is the month we had a white supremacist insurrection attempt from outside and within our government, culminating in a violent attack on our congress, all on a Wednesday.

This is the month when threats and rumors of threats against state houses, liberal churches, and our democracy itself circulated and swirled around us as we waited with baited breath to see if we would indeed experience a peaceful transfer of power. I don’t know about you, but for a good amount of time this month I felt anything but grounded — barely able to do anything but worry and spin.

When I feel the most overwhelmed by the too muchness of this life, my sense of ungrounding is often my fear that the paradox at the heart of things will pull me apart and send me flying away from myself.

How can I feel such disappointment and hope and remain in tact? How can I be present to terror and beauty at once and not spin out? How can I love and lose and then love even more and have any hope of remaining whole? How can we be in community together, all of us, with out shattering?

It all swirls and swirls, and in heightened times such as these, the too-muchness of it all can feel beyond ungrounded. It can begin to feel celestial, extraterrestrial, astral — solar storms of how much can the human bear?

The thing I most need to remember in these satellite spinning moments, is that we are made of stardust, but we can rely upon the physics of this earth.

…..

There’s this thing that bodies do:
They obey gravity.

Even when we feel we might fly apart,
flung out of orbit,
by all of the forces of life and love acting upon us,

Still the earth pulls us to her.
Still our cells hold together.
Still the pieces of our broken hearts
hang close and are not flung away.

While you are on this earth,
though it may be very hard to feel,
in some very real way the center holds.
It can do no other.

So,
maybe,
we just
let it.

…..

What would it be like for you today, to trust gravity?

To fall to the ground with all your pain and all your hope and all your questions and aching love and to feel the earth clasp all of it, and you, tight to her surface.

To find that you can fall apart, but the pieces aren’t going anywhere and none of them are lost.

To let go of the effort to hold yourself together, and to notice that you are held anyhow.

To understand that staying grounded isn’t some Herculean effort so much as the surrender to what always always is. The ground is right here.

This gravity is very literal. Go lie in the crunchy brown grass this afternoon and feel its pull.

But of course, it is metaphorical too, or existential perhaps: There is a spiritual gravity that echoes the forces holding us close to the earth’s body, a gravity that holds our hearts together and does not let them fly apart.

In this role of pastor, which strikes me every day anew with awe and trembling, I have the incredible privilege of walking with people when their worlds are shattering, as well as when they are blossoming. And I have learned about this spiritual gravity from watching people go beyond what is possible to endure, and keep living when the bottom has fallen out, and be overcome with grief, and face death.

Over and over again I have witnessed that some center holds, inexplicably, and the ground is alway there, eternally, and we are pulled back together, inexorably. Thank Physics.

There is a spiritual gravity that echoes the forces holding us close to the earth’s body. It is the force of coherence that holds us miraculously in tact even as the deep paradoxes of this world threaten to tear us apart.

It is the gravity that holds our hearts, and it is the force of connection that binds us to one another, even when we each spin amid our own struggles… a relational gravity that keeps us all tangled together and rooted in our interdependence.

Even as explosive times fling us apart, gravity is always working to pull us back together. The gravity of the entire universe is stronger than the gravity of the forces that would pretend our isolation. We are pulled into network with one another, again and again. Our interdependence is held in and defined by the very movements of the starts and planets.

And here’s the really good news: We don’t need to hold it all together on our own: these networks of interdependence — these pieces of our hearts. Gravity has it covered.

In these times that are traumatizing us all, staying grounded is more important than ever, but perhaps it is also very simple. Just, stop resisting gravity. Just, in the words of Rilke: “trust your heaviness” and “the pull toward the heart of the world.” Just, let yourself be held.

So what would it be like to trust gravity today?

Maybe there is an opening for your body to rest.

Maybe there are some feelings to be felt at long last.

Maybe there is a relationship that needs less clutching and more allowing.

Maybe there is a dream that needs less effort and more presence.

Maybe today is the day you sit, or lie down, and just feel the earth reaching for you.

Maybe today is the day you reach back.

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The Rev. Molly Housh Gordon is minister of the Unitarian Universalist Church-Columbia, MO. She is passionate about healing the soul wounds of supremacy systems.

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Molly Housh Gordon

Molly Housh Gordon

The Rev. Molly Housh Gordon is minister of the Unitarian Universalist Church-Columbia, MO. She is passionate about healing the soul wounds of supremacy systems.

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