by Hye Sung
I have some friends where you can tell they experience their bodies as a residence, as a space. With some of them, it’s like they’re visiting their bodies. In their eyes you see them peeking into the world.
Their minds are their sanctuaries.
I’m not like that. I experience my body as my self. In fact, sometimes I struggle to stick with my thoughts long enough to think about what I’m thinking. Sometimes I’m not really sure what I’m feeling. Or how I’m feeling.
What I’m trying to say is that I’ll be out for a run – running – when all of a sudden I’ll feel rage or heartbreak or fear, rising up from my chest and catching up with me. I just keep running into my feelings. Sobbing. Shouting.
I think this is part of why I’m pentecostal. My body is how I know God. When I first came to know Jesus, I felt it. It was an emotional experience, yes, but convincement wasn’t a decision for me. Instead, I was overwhelmed. It took over my body. There were weeks of confusion over feeling compelled by Jesus, and I didn’t necessarily want to be. I tried to push it away. But I was falling in love. I was possessed by love, and I prayed. My whole body shook and shook, and there on the ground, on my knees, I knew God.
Charismatic worship goes against my sensibilities. But my body hungers for it. The freedom to be and to go and to feel. In the back of the church sanctuary I’d reach for God, speaking in tongues, and I’d let the Spirit run through my body. My prayer didn’t have any clear formulation or organization, but as I moved into the rhythm of my body, the secrets of my heart would bubble up. I’d begin to feel what I had resisted feeling, and I’d feel myself pulled into healing.
The funny thing is that I ended up in Quaker circles. It didn’t go well, and I continually claim to no longer be Quaker. But every so often I stumble into the meetinghouse, surrounded by expectant seekers, and I meet the Spirit of God. I feel her presence and get a glimpse of her kin-dom.
The thing about being in Quaker waiting worship – the focused quiet of it – is that I can feel myself slipping into dissociation. So instead of trying to center, I just let my mind run, trusting that the Spirit can run alongside for as long as it takes to tire me out. And I’m breathless – overwhelmed by the same love I first met in Jesus.
There is a seed within me, and that seed – the seed of God’s kin-dom – is fed by Light.
I need both. I need to break into the love of God, and I need to wait in silence. Whether shouting in tongues or sitting in the quiet, both are expressions of yielding to the Spirit, both are ways of finding God’s rhythm. Then (surprise!) the Spirit rises, and God’s grace is poured out. Look around! The kin-dom is within us, and it is among us.