My grandmother after she retired found a ministry that got her excited and involved - clown ministry! That's right she would dress up with a white face, red nose, purple hair, and a colorful outfit. A group she was affiliated with would go around to churches, children's hospitals, and other places to bring joy to others. My grandmother's clown name was Rainbow because of a significant story that had impacted her life.
One interesting thing about this ministry is that my grandmother was a silent clown. She didn't say a word but used facial expressions, hand gestures, and body language to communicate her message and bring humor to others. I remember seeing her in action when I was younger, and was amazed at how well she could communicate without words.
My grandmother's example makes me think about the expressive nature of humanity. Our expressions go beyond words by powerfully connecting who we are with others. It is our expressiveness, our non-verbals which speak our welcome to others and open us up as individuals.
So let's explore this topic with these questions. How can we hone our non-verbals to be more welcoming with those around us? How can my non-verbal communication enhance my spirituality?
This short clip was taken from the movie "A Thousand Words" in which Eddie Murphy lost his ability to communicate. He attempts to order an espresso at a coffee shop but struggles when others do not read his non-verbals correctly. It humorously depicts the challenges we sometimes have in our communication if we are not being expressive or reading the body language of another correctly.
So how do we improve our non-verbal skills? Check out Kendra Cherry's "Top 10 Non-Verbal Communication Tips." If you are still craving more you can also go to Erik Devaney's blog post "33 Little Ways to Improve Your Communication Skills." Practicing these tips will improve your overall communication with others. When we hone what we communicate we can become intentionally welcoming.
Here's another video of some dancers who had to overcome their language barriers to create this dance. It's fascinating when we realize so much of our communication happens without words.
Enhancing Our Spirituality With Body Spirituality
Most Christian traditions have various non-verbal communication which most people can identify with. Hands together = praying, hands raised = praise, etc. Our body language can play a major role in us experiencing the divine. Sometimes it's what we do with our bodies that opens ourselves up for God to be present within us. Using gestures, postures, and movements helps us connect and embody our spirituality. Community of Christ has a great reference to Body Spirituality which I have linked for you to check out.
The biggest challenge is overcoming the feeling of awkwardness and discomfort which usually accompanies people who try something different for the first time. We typically fear what is different so any changes with our body moves us into the realm of discomfort. But it is in the discomfort where spiritual growth can be found. Much like the video above, if we go through the motions comfort comes and we are able to communicate clearly. So I encourage you to get out of your comfort zone and try something different.
There is so much growth for us to find if we begin to harness the power of our non-verbal communication not only with people but also our own spirituality. Let your welcoming spirit radiate throughout your body!
I would love to hear any comments about ways you have used non-verbal communication to enhance your spirituality. So Please Share!
Craig Hidy like the majority of ministers in Community of Christ is a bi-vocational, self sustaining ordained minister. He is a member of the Midlands Mission Center Emporia Team and an ordained Seventy. He and his family, live in Topeka, Kansas.
What is a Seventy?
The Seventy carry out missionary work for the church in close association with other missionary leaders. They represent Christ primarily as ministers of evangelism through witnessing, inviting, and church planting. They especially proclaim and promote Jesus Christ’s invitation to faithful discipleship through vibrant witness, and train individuals and congregations in witness and invitation. They particularly minister with seekers, individually and in groups, to share the gospel in relevant ways and to invite response. They support sacramental ministries by preparing people for baptism and/or confirmation, presiding at sacramental services, and performing most sacraments. They promote community by inviting individuals, households, and families to respond to Christ’s call to discipleship. They promote justice and peacemaking by inviting people to experience all aspects of Christ’s peace through active discipleship. They create ministry partnerships with mission center officers, apostles, elders, and evangelists.
The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Community of Christ. We believe individuals should be allowed to have their own opinions and be at different places in their faith journey.