At the end of the summer, Kelly and I started making arrangements to move to Buena Vista, Colorado. We bought an awesome house that looks out over the Collegiate Peaks mountain range and invited my parents to move out of their assisted living community in Austin, TX and into the house with us. So, in the midst of the elections, the Thanksgiving holidays and so on, I have been somewhat absorbed in this major family transition.
I still have trainings on the books at The San Marcos School of Yoga through June and so I will be back and forth between Texas and Colorado over the next few months. I am in Texas now, with a few moments to sit and write before 10 days of teaching begin tomorrow with the Asana Junkies Winter Intensive which will be followed by the annual intensive I teach with my friend, Mari Young. I am looking forward to both events.
Mom and Dad arrived in Buena Vista on November 16 and the settling in process seems to be going pretty well for all of us. In preparation for their move, I made contact with the local United Methodist church, Grace Church, hoping to create a connection for them to have when they got here. Of course, it didn't surprise me one bit that, while I went to church "for them" I found a lot of strength and support for myself there as well. I have been playing this game of growing up long enough to know that many times I do something for one reason on the surface, only to find that there are often much deeper reasons driving my choices. I always feel a bit like God is winking at me in those moments.
I loved Jesus as a kid and had a pretty rich prayer life as long as I can remember. I never felt "at home" in church, however, but in retrospect, that may have had more to do with southern culture which was never a great fit for me as a strong-willed, opinionated, outspoken child who asked a lot of questions and had a somewhat difficult relationship to authority. But I digress. My exploration of spirituality beyond Christianity wasn't so much based on anything bad that happened for me as a result of my Christian upbringing, but had more to do with a desire for the experience of God and the experience of community to be authentic, inspiring and alive in action. I found that in the practical work of the 12-steps of OA and in my exploration of yoga and in my relationship with my spiritual teacher, Lee Lozowick, None of those avenues felt like a rejection of my early religious upbringing, but instead, felt more like an expansion thereof.
Last Sunday was the first Sunday in Advent and the minister gave a lovely sermon about how Advent is not the preparation for the birth of Christ as much as it is a preparation for the "Second Coming of Christ." And just in case your hackles go up when you hear that term here on a yoga blog, don't worry. She went on to say that the "Second Coming of Christ" happens when Jesus comes alive within us and when, in that awakening, each one of us brings forth our truest and deepest talents in creative, authentic ways that serve others in awakening to that same understanding within themselves.
I know writing about religion is about as dicey as posting something politically-oriented on Facebook these days. I know this rendering of scripture might not be for everyone. (So, as always, take what you can use and leave the rest.) I loved her message and found the essence of her teaching reminiscent of what I believe is possible in and through yoga. Am I saying that yoga will turn me into Jesus? Not so much. But I have, like many of you have who are reading this post now, had moments where my Heart rises, where wisdom awakens, and where clarity dawns from the clouds of confusion. I have found courage to step up, to speak out and even to shut up, when that is needed. I have developed the muscle of recognition, which helps me notice those moments that feed me spiritually and point me in the direction of my growth. I don't work with definitive set of rules, protocols or guarantees on the path, but I have faith in the process of self-study, self-inquiry, service and action.
I certainly don't have a faith that "things will work out" because I think the human timetable of "things working out" may not match up to the larger story of evolution and, while my personal life seems lovely now, things can change on a dime. And it goes without saying-- but I am going to say it here anyway-- there are many privileges and luxuries I enjoy that others do not and so it seems absurd to match up a good phase in my life with some notion of a more universal trust in positive outcomes.
And in the midst of a heated Presidential election and in the presence of fears for the future, many people have told me that their faith has gone a bit dormant, that they feel disconnected from hope. I get that. The state of current events has been divisive, vitriolic and even abusive for many people. I certainly don't think a better back bend is going to make a big difference in public policy or foreign relations. I do, however, think that those moments when we bend over backwards and face ourselves on the mat-- the good, bad, and ugly-- can help carve out a pathway to the Heart so that it can rise within us and empower our action off the mat. I do not think asana will do the job for us. I do, however, think it can help us grow sensitive, flexible and strong enough to respond to the uncertainty of our circumstance with some measure of consciousness.
It can. Of course, it might not. There is enough evidence to suggest both possibilities are true, but I can not go down the road of "what is wrong with yoga" today.
Anyway-- sitting there in church, seeing the familiar symbols of the faith tradition of my childhood and participating in the ritual of shared worship, felt nourishing to me. I heard the same scriptures with new ears and with different eyes and saw the message of redemption through Love that has always been there with the gratitude of an adult who needs it, as opposed to the petulance of a child who wanted it delivered according to my own ideas. I experienced retuning to church like a homecoming that didn't take away all that I have learned in my studies and practice, but instead gave me a place to integrate my who I am now with the roots of who I have always been.
And in this day and age, I will take inspiration wherever I can find it.
Anyway, lots more could be said but I needed to get back in the game of posting blog entries and this is what was on my mind today. At some point, I will write more about helping Mom and Dad during this phase of our lives but for now, all I can say about that is that it is precious.
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"There is a light that shines beyond all things on Earth, beyond us all, beyond the heaven, beyond the highest, the very highest heavens. This is the light that shines in our heart."