The body that holds and reveals home: a participant's reflection

How are our bodies reflections of the homes from which we originate, openings to our ancestors, and lands? And how are they, looking forward, spaces for possibilities, opportunities for us to ask questions, and birth new potentials, creating other stories? André Marques Chambel reflects on these themes and questions, weaving insights from the course, Re/membering our Rooted Selves.

When I think about memory and the act of remembering, I see myself walking through a garden, a secret garden, where I meet different sensations and images that call out to me, moments that actually become visible while I walk and that I feel a summoning of sorts to take into consideration. Remembrance, for me, has always been about a journey in a specific interior landscape, it has been about the encounters that occur in that space that is connected to the self — encounters with things that concern me, things that relate to me. Actually, “things” is not the best word for what I mean. Maybe what I want to say is “beings”, in the sense that they don’t need to always be “persons” or “entities” but existences that are and were, places, times, situations, be-ings that occupy my memory-scapes.

By participating in Re/membering our Rooted Selves, I see myself walking more and more in this inner-scape. I see myself connecting with earlier memories, with ancestors, with stories that relate to the past: my past and the past of others. This has a lot to do with the meaning of the word “remembrance”, with the sense of reconnecting to something, to find a part of ourselves that we need to root into. Layla K. Feghali talks really well about this, in the podcast For The Wild: “I use the language of remembrance, because it's both to remember, which is to return to a fundamental part of our essence or our internal sense of knowing of being a truth — a truth that does not waver. And it's also to re-member, which is to collect the dismembered pieces, to restore a cohesive form”.

Re-membering is re-connecting, re-living, because memory has a close bond with the land and our relationship to its beings.

The same goes for its connection to our ancestors, since they are expressions of that land and the land is a living presence, alongside the body, where ancestors remain contemporary, where they are felt in the now.

Actually, our bodies are expressions of the land and of our ancestors. The body is an opening to the other. As Sophie Strand puts it, “the body is a doorway”. And, because of this, the body welcomes those beings into its inner-scapes, some of which grow with us and some of which are born with us. Ancestors live in our bodies and memory, they are present in our blood and bones, in our self-expression, in our history and our future to come. As Lana Jelenjev says, in the second session of the course Re/membering our Rooted Selves, “We are a make-up of their sacrifices and the challenges they faced and all the things that made them resilient, made them who they are, and has allowed for us to be here. You know, we carry both the struggles and the strengths of our ancestors”. In this sense, we, beings-with-bodies, are carriers, carriers of the land and the ancestors and carriers of beings with no bodies. We are meeting points, we are spaces and ecosystems. We are worlds and lands in and of ourselves. The way we express land is by being land-like, it is by thinking of our consciousness as a space, as some-where to be in, somewhere to live in. We are houses to many beings. We are a home. Even when it doesn’t feel like it.

We are home to stories, we are home to micro-organisms, we are home to spirits. And, if our body is a home of sorts, it can only be because we carry an expression of home with us, because we hold space for that which is more-than-one to be alive in us. We carry that which makes a home: we carry connection, we carry relation, we carry concernment — we carry that bond to the Earth as a welcoming space and the bond to stories that support our lives and their purposes. We live as embodied spirits capable of making space for other spirits.

This spatialisation, despite relating to a past of stories and a present of relationships, has a lot to do with a future of possibilities, of fulfillments of possibilities.

And this is why carrying home relates to carrying a seed for something to come. Being an expression of home is having, deep inside ourselves, the capacity to change, the capacity to respond — we are called to the responsibility of being a home, which is also to be able to respond to the changes that happen in our lives, to the callings that we get relating to our vocations, to the situations we live through. We are in a constant dialogue with those around us and in us, we are always living through a response-able environment. This is what it means to be responsible: holding space, expressing a home in us; because every “response”, and even the capacity to be in conversation, needs a place that will be receptive to the needs of said interactions. Every interaction needs a “home” to hold it or to go back to.

And responsibility has everything to do with a future of possibilities, rooted into stories of the past and the presence of our ancestors. I believe Kera Willis expresses it well in her essay for Braided Way, All the Light the World Can Hold: “We have the power to create the future at this moment. To birth the kind of freedom, community, and connection that supports the brilliant diversity of ALL life. This river of possibility flows through the maps of our DNA, through the blood that joins our hands with those of our ancestors”. We can venture into this and connect it to the idea of purpose and vocation, since inside of every one of us is a home, and inside that home there is a seed, a seed that contains possible futures. We can equate this to the acorn theory of James Hillman, since any seed carries with it the potential to turn into a plant. The same happens to us: inside of our home — or the home we carry in us — is a potential for our future, there is a space for our becoming — and I’m talking of our becoming as a community, not only as an individual in said community.

Being a home means being receptive to becoming, being welcoming of possibilities. If having a body, which is an expression of land, is an opening of space for potential, let us point to a way that begins with questions, let us start at inquiry. Kera Willis, continuing the article already mentioned, asks: “How do we create new ways of being without falling into the lullaby of the past? How do we break bonds with the fear that welds our hands to control? How do we let the wild outside ourselves exist unmarred if we annihilate the wild within us at the slightest whisper of its existence?”

By starting with questions, we make space for opportunity, we express being a home, because a home is able to hold a potential for something and that something can be, very clearly, a community of many.

By inquiring, we invite the land, the ancestors and other beings to our inner home, to our memory-scapes, so we can move forward more purposefully and manifest the potential inside all of us to create more connection and other stories.

*Header image courtesy of the author


André Marques Chambel

André Marques Chambel is an artist and writer based in Portugal.

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