Published in  
March 11, 2021

Lenten Gestures - Earning

As we learn to hear our bodies and to allow play and improvisation into our spiritual lives, our movement becomes our prayer.

Matthew 25:23

"His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’"

What is the posture of earning? Below are some directions for embodying this verse and gesture to gain a new understanding of this parable from Matthew 25.

1.) Explore

For this process, I chose to only use my hands to engage in a short movement meditation and improvisation. Enter this process with curiosity -- ask, what do my hands know about earning?

First, begin by exploring gestures and postures in your body that express the word earning to you. Say the word a few times outloud, then say it only using part of your body (only your hands, feet, head, fingers, etc.). In the photos I use only my hands, but you can also try engaging your entire body.

Play with different hand postures for a few minutes. You can imitate the gestures in the photos, or try your own movement variations.

2.) Weave and Improvise

Choose 2-3 postures or gestures you liked and weave them together.

Follow along with me in the movement meditation in the video, or turn on some music and spend a few minutes improvising movement with the gestures or postures you’ve chosen. You have every permission to experiment and veer off the path!

Slowly begin to expand upon your ideas and improvise new movements. You may turn on some slow music to move to if you’d like (here, I’m moving to Satie’s Gymnopédie No. 1).

(Side note: Along with the theme of earning, this verse also contains elements of giving, dedication, receiving, invitation, and praise. How do these expressions influence your movement?)

3.) Observe  

After you’ve finished improvising, observe:

-How do you feel in your body? Are there any places where you feel relaxed, ease, tension or tightness?

-Did any emotions, images, colors, or vocalizations arise in you while you moved? Did they arise with a particular movement or gesture?

-Did a story come to mind as you moved? If so, what was it?

-Did you find any new ways of moving within a gesture -- any hidden doors, unexplored territory that opened up new understanding?

-What did the improvisation and movement sequence show you? What did you learn? (Not necessarily about the text, but also about you, your body and imagination?)

Looking at the movement mediation in the video, we could interpret these gestures of earning not only as a method of receiving, but as an action that requires us to give something of ourselves. Maybe earning is also a form of welcoming, or inviting something new into our lives. Or perhaps you resonate more with the word investing — investment and earning live in continual rhythm with one another.

What are you inviting or investing in? And, likewise, what do you truly desire to earn?

4.) Repeat and Play

Repeat the movement sequence as many times as you like and keep improvising with different versions of these movements. Be aware if you are thinking your way through the movement or playing to a certain interpretation. Allow your body to lead; this may change your original discoveries completely!

5.) Closing Observations

Consider: when you pull your hands toward yourself, what are you welcoming or inviting? When you push your hands out, what are you investing or putting into motion?

When you open and close your hands, is it a gesture of holding on and letting go, or of control and loss? How does the intention behind your movement inform your understanding of earning?

Try moving as the characters in this parable. Move like you are the landowner in Matthew 25, and you are saying, “Well done, excellent!” to your servant. Now move like you are the servant, you have invested your time and talents, and now you are earning this praise from someone you want to impress. Do any new discoveries come to you as you play with these variations?  

The wisdom of the body is always available to us. As we learn to hear our bodies and to allow play and improvisation into our spiritual lives, our movement becomes our prayer.  

Stay open to new discoveries and keep playing! Happy moving!

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Practice: Movement Liturgy Video

Click here to watch the accompanying video as you read through the movement liturgy.