For today’s “Faith Fridays” post, I attribute inspiration to a reflection I read on the blog of memoirist Heather King over at Shirt of Flame titled, “Why I Kneel.”
To be honest, I hadn’t thought too deeply about my own need to kneel until I read Heather’s post. Funny how we writers inspire one another in that way, bringing to the fore that which had been buried or at least set aside. I found the post moving and the conversation that ensued in the aftermath interesting. People feel strongly about whether to kneel in worship and what exactly it signifies.
What I’ve known instinctively for some time now is that I was made to kneel. There is something within me that knows when the time is right for this stance. Certain times and situations beg that I surrender, let go of my upright stance and make way for something greater than my own power, to acknowledge that I am the created, and God is the Creator.
Heather says this about kneeling:
“The very fact that we’re praying means we’re already receiving what our hearts long for. To open ourselves to reality. To move away from isolation and toward communion. To die to self-reliance and come alive in wonder and mystery. Acknowledging our vulnerability, we’re in solidarity with every other sick, suffering, broken person in the world. With our heads bowed, our ears are closer to our hearts. On our knees, we’re the same height as children.”
Wow. That just struck me as being so vividly what’s on my own heart. I especially like the last two lines, about our ears being closer to our hearts, and being the same height as children.
I think of how many times I have bent down to listen more carefully to what my children have to say, to meet them on their level. How many times has God done this for me, His beloved? How many zillions of times has God come down to my level to meet me where I am at?
The more enamored with God I become, the more I desire to surrender and make way for a will other than my own, the more I am inclined to kneel when the time is appropriate.
It can happen very spontaneously, like the time I went to visit my friend dying of cancer. I hadn’t seen her in two weeks, and in that time, things had changed drastically. The sight of her rapidly decomposing body literally brought me to my knees. Seeing her lying on the bed barely breathing, I found it impossible to stay standing. I literally dropped to my knees right then and there, in front of a few others who had come to say goodbye. I was powerless over the sight of my friend and I submitted, through my body, to what was happening. It was a posture of shock, sadness, surrender, love.
Sometimes, standing proves impossible. The knees buckle, and one is as low as one can be.
Though not all may agree, our diocese encourages we give a short bow before receiving the Eucharist, and since incorporating this into my reception of the Lord at Mass, I have felt the power of the life-giving bread more acutely. I bow because I desire it. It feels natural and right in that circumstance. It has helped me be more mindful of what I am doing and why.
We speak through our words, but we speak through our bodies, too. My sense is that we were made to kneel, and when it is done out of eager obedience, in glad surrender, it can be a posture of love.
Just as I’ve bent my knees to listen better to my children, so I desire to bend my knees to listen better to my God.
Q4U: How does body posture affect/enhance the way you worship?