Life and relationships are all about posture.
My wife Holley came in with groceries yesterday. I helped carry in the remainder, and bags both plastic and fabric were stacked on any empty elevated surface. There is a method to Holley’s madness – certain bags are placed nearest to their final destination. I posture myself towards the things that I know where they go, and then begin to clear away empty bags.
Add to yesterday’s excitement the fact that as the groceries were going away, I was preparing to travel to a speaking gig. On top of that, I would return home today only to trade suitcases and head out on vacation.
It is amazing how our bodies can be moving in one direction and our minds another.
Holley and I were talking about the availability of rotisserie chicken (a frequent talking point in our house), the crowded or uncrowded stores (surprising for a Saturday), and other ancillary topics.
At some point, I found a bag of ground coffee. Hallelujah. I could see the bottom of my white porcelain canister, and that is a frightening thing. So, I opened the bag and poured in the grains of dark brown goodness. I put my nose close the canister, because getting closer to something helps you engage with it best. There is nothing better than ground coffee freshly poured from a vacuum-sealed bag.
I moved from the kitchen to the living room and began folding laundry. Some pieces I needed for the speaking engagement, some would go in a suitcase for vacation. Rolling socks, triple-flipping towels – I got lost in my thoughts.
Then I looked up and saw another bag of ground coffee on the counter. Hmm. I thought I had put that away.
“Did you find more coffee?” I asked.
“Yes,” Holley said. “That’s why I said to you: ‘You’re in luck, they had a deal on two bags. You said ‘Uh huh.’”
Did I? I did, and I remember that, but I wasn’t close enough to her words to process it.
This is not a question of whether I’m a good listener. I’m not, and I struggle with that. This question is about something much more nuanced and complex.
The reason I missed the conversation is because of my posture.
There are two ways to look at the word posture. We can see it as signifying the position of our body in space – back straight and upright or shoulders rolled forward, hunched.
But we can also see posture as a way of placing ourselves in attentiveness towards others, our world, and even towards God.
In my reading and thinking about spiritual formation, one of the keys to transformation is our posture towards God, self, and others. As I mentioned in a previous post, the center of Jesus’ teaching is the soul-encompassing love for God, self, and others. While this sounds like a way of thinking, it isn’t simply a mental exercise.
We choose to postures ourselves in certain ways towards God, self, and others every day.
The time we set aside for meditation, quiet, and attending to God, our bodies, and the relational dynamics around us.
When we choose to have a hard conversation for the sake of knowing another well enough to love them.
The integrating of our mind with sacred texts – from memorization to lectio divina– helps us conceive of God, self, and others differently.
Any spiritual practices, and any way of being in the world that we choose for that matter, either opens us to God or creates a boundary which is difficult to cross.
For me and the grocery fiesta, I should have stopped my and attuned myself to what my wife was saying. Then, returned to the aroma. The posture makes all the difference.
The posture we choose towards God, self, and others determines the person we are becoming.