Embodiment as the key to the effects of trauma on our spirituality
...embodiment (is) a metaphor for the activity and agency of God in
the world. (Mary Grey)
Witness as ‘withness’ (Flora Keshgegian)
 Leonard Shengold refers to ‘soul murder’ (1989) ‘To abuse or
neglect a child, to deprive the child of his or her own identity
and ability to experience joy in life is to commit soul murder..’
Loss of our creativity/senses/libido
Inability to feel/to notice/to be aware of the presence of others
Presence of others/symbols/language... becomes unsafe
Space – time – food – sleep - dissociation
Agitation, voices, flashbacks, recurring nightmares
Bodily pain, disability and changes
Breakdown of trust
Inability to love and to receive love –
to know what love may be
Self-harm/punishment and release
Anger to self/others/God
Loss of voice and inability to form sentences
Loss of sense of self and being
Hate of self
‘Blessing’ Artist: Ruth Goodheir
I came in despair and anguish and utter pain. You held my story and
placed me in a room of Peace, offering me sanctuary and space to begin
to find the healing I needed.
…I discovered a gentle God and the love and acceptance in needed in the
care given to me…I discovered the awesome power of creativity to unlock
our deepest recesses and the power of God to heal through the
imaginative processes…I rediscovered myself and discovered for the first
time parts of myself...
I was at the edge. Holy Rood House gave me time and space to step back
from the edge…
Before I came to Holy Rood I ‘knew’ I was unlovable. Gradually over
several visits I know that I am loved. Today I have come to the realisation
that whether I am here in the body or not...
I am still held by the love of Holy Rood…
I am part of a community of love.
What greater gift could you give me?
Pain, raw, horrific
leaving my body & soul
The dark cold winter of my life
infecting my mind.
beckons the way for spring,
for hope.
Pain, moulded into clay
raw, horrific, graffic
The hard unchanging images in
dark images made real in
the clay were broken and left to soak.
the soft forgiving clay.
With the same hands now
My life, my pain
she was reborn,
there now
solid in clay,
with smooth flowing curves,
with tenderness and compassion.
set for all time.
She is my risen life,
Seasons change –
my broken body,
winter to spring
my living soul.
summer to autumn
- we too move and change
in with the rhythm of life.
• The body knows – the body re-members
• ‘the body is still the map on which
we mark our meanings’ (Warner,1985)
• ‘bodies are the nature and destiny of God.’ (Heyward, 1989)
• ‘the Word became flesh and dwelt among us’ (John 1)
The flesh begins to become the word…body language & voice…
within an embodied environment of mutual trust
….unspoken stories emerge…
• We are the body of Christ/our bodies
are the temple of the Holy Spirit
• Flesh becomes ‘a place of revelation...
together we dare to risk
our own divine incarnation.’
(Isherwood, 2000)
Dualisms in theology, liturgy, hymnody
Flesh and spirit – soul
Language and symbol denoting power and control
Environments and authoritarian systems
Survival techniques following trauma
Giving ourselves away...and breaking down
“Our breaking down becomes our breaking through”
(Holy Rood House Eucharistic Prayer)
Grieving for the loss of our ‘selves’
Our ‘I am’
“I don’t know who I am anymore”
Working towards re-integration.
my God-self
Artist: Glynis Rose
A story of lilac blossom
A Threshold Theology
Story-telling – listening – observing
BEING PRESENT...the ‘power in relation’ (Carter Heyward)
Awareness of the environment/of beauty/changing
seasons/ecology and the health of the planet
Awareness of bodily changes/the aging process
The Quality of Tenderness (Brian Thorne)
Re-working kenosis – resistance & ethical responses (see Mercedes & Grey)
Re-working power and empowerment ‘Power in relation’ (Heyward)
Alertness of the senses ‘The senses are...instruments
of grace...given us to know what ‘grace’ means’
(Tim Gorringe 2001)
Awakening to well-being – the I am – our divine becoming
Coming Home...
I saw God in a sip-puff wheelchair, that is, the chair used mostly
by quadriplegics enabling them to manoeuvre by blowing and
sucking on a straw-like device. Not an omnipotent self-sufficient
God, but neither a pitiable suffering servant. In this moment, I
beheld God as a survivor, unpitying and forthright. I recognised
the incarnate Christ in the image of those judged ‘not feasible’,
‘unemployable’, with ‘questionable quality of life.’ Here was God
for me. (Nancy Eiesland 1994)
What contemporary body theology absolutely must not do
is to ignore the equally valid experience of the body limited in
time and space…These differences…could be of theological and
existential creativity, resources for everyone to draw on to
understand what being embodied is all about.’ (Jackie Scully 2002)
The vulnerable divine and wounded healer...
We become the wounded healers and the
wounded ones needing to be healed...(see Henri Nouwen)
...whatsoever things are true, whatsoever
things are honest, whatsoever things are
just, whatsoever things are pure,
whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever
things are of good report; if there be any
virtue, and if there be any praise, think
on these things. Phil 4:8
‘Crosspeace’ Artist: Elaine Wisdom
Innate wisdom – the presence of Sophia/Wisdom at the
‘I am the way, the truth and the life’
The Way – of being, leading to finding our truth and
flourishing in life
Grounded, embodied, sacramental approach to being
people of grace – not law ...
Making Connections and re-integrating the fractured parts
of ourselves
Discovering Community
Safe space when life feels unsafe
‘This is the first time I have felt safe enough to feel unsafe’
A community of conversation
A re-membering community
Inclusive community
Becoming a community of mutuality
A community of story-telling
A community of faith
‘Thank you for believing in me when I could no longer believe in myself’
Threshold community
Visionary community
Becoming a prophetic community
“If we burn with a passion for well-being,
the spark is God...
In sustaining and becoming ourselves
in relation we are giving birth to more
of this sacred power who needs us,
her friends, to bring her to life and
help nourish her life on the earth.
She is being born among us…
she is not yet but becoming…”
(Carter Heyward)
Artist: Glynis Rose
Wound tight by the pressures & prejudices of those who
believe in a rule book instead of good news, I ran to a half
remembered bolt-hole to reconnect with those whose faith
means that God is known in – splashing paint and quiet
labyrinth, in mixtures and margins, in steaming hot chocolate
and broken bread and poured wine.
And the coil unwound a little; and my breathing slowed a
little; and I laughed a little easier; and I go more slowly as I
leave, because I would stay longer in this place where holy
wholeness lies, in the true freedom of being loved as we are.
If you are here too for such solace may it find you; and may
you find it in you to walk taller as you leave, taking your
space, accepting your face, making your place, a glimmering
spark of God’s kingdom.
(Words from a guest at Holy Rood House)