Tuesday, July 21, 2015

6-Ten Yoga

6:10 a.m. Yoga club. Well, that’s what I’ve named us anyway. My friend Jenny (who also happens to be our child care provider, homeschool expert and all around great person) and I decided to start going to Yoga at 6 a.m. because an awesome woman in the community was offering free classes.

Okay, so they aren’t really free. They are “donation” based – but a donation is far better than paying $100 a month for the gym in the off chance I’ll get up. Plus – I feel a lot guiltier skipping out on the “free” yoga because this sweet woman is giving her time to a small group of women and doesn’t expect to be paid for it. I WANT to go so that she gets a donation. It’s a weird reasoning.

Anyway. We get up at 5:30 a.m. after probably only sleeping 4 hours (Jenny has four kids and I have two, so there isn’t a whole lot of hours to get to ourselves so going to bed early is always out!) and we drive the 15 minutes over to the lake front park to be there by 6:10.

The sky is still dark when I get into my car. It’s slate against the backdrop of palm trees and oaks spread across the horizon. As I turn the curve onto Lakeshore Blvd, the water comes into view and I start to see just a sliver of pink start to stretch across the sky.

I drive further in, park by the playground and walk the short distance down to the peninsula pavilion.  The water circles around us, lapping up on the rocks as the early morning breeze floats across the ripples.

As I lean down into child’s pose the birds start to wake up as the sun inches its way up above the shoreline. The ducks and the mocking birds chatter incessantly to one another. I imagine their dialogue like that of two old friends recounting their day before to each other over coffee – or in this case over that early morning worm.

The sun climbs ever so slightly as we contort and stretch and move our bodies to sun salutation. Hello sun. And it reminds me. Hello God.

See some people think that practicing yoga is somehow sacrilegious. I completely disagree. Yoga is a place where yes, you quiet your mind and focus on your body. It believes in quiet meditation and centering your thoughts. But for me – this fits right into what I believe about Christ. As the sun raises the thoughts of “the son” also raise into my heart.

Creation hums around me and I remember Psalms 148-- 

Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise him in the heights! Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his host!  Praise him, sun and moon; praise him, all you shining stars! Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens!  Let them praise the name of the Lord, for he commanded and they were created.  He established them forever and ever; he fixed their bounds, which cannot be passed.  Praise the Lord from the earth, you sea monsters and all deeps, fire and hail, snow and frost, stormy wind fulfilling his command! Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars! Wild animals and all cattle, creeping things and flying birds! Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth! Young men and women alike, old and young together! Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his glory is above earth and heaven.

I hear the water splash melodically across the shore – even the water and rocks cry out for God. It seems that as the sun’s light spreads out across the shadows the whole Earth begins to give praise to God.

And so I bow towards the sun and I offer up my praise as well.

Thank you Jesus for this wind sweeping across my brow. Thank you God for my body sore and stiff but able to nurture babies and grow strong. Thank you Holy Spirit for this air so fresh, clear, breathing into my lungs the spirit of God to blow out anew onto all those around me.

Today in the 6:10 Yoga Club we did a 10 minute meditation. I’ll be honest – the path of the process was a little frou-frou for my tastes but I go along with it anyway.

“Imagine your becoming one with this tree in the woods,” it whispers. “See the long branches …” which I do – I begin to imagine that I’m in this cool forest my back leaning against an old oak – when some guy starts doing pull ups off the limbs! Oh yeah, by product of 6:10 Yoga Club? 6:20 pavilion pull up guy. Without fail, he’s there.  

So it’s me, this tree, pull up guy – and finally Jesus. You see the meditation is nice and calming but it’s not what I really want to imagine. Sure there can be a tree – sure I can sit against it. But I want Jesus to be sitting beside me. I want to use those 10 minutes to talk with my savior. I want to be reminded of how I’ve taken this time for granted, and tell God I’m sorry. I want the faces of those who I have wronged and have wronged me to be pulled up before me so I can find forgiveness. I want to taste the communion of air, and sweat, and tears, and stillness and remember, as Ann Voskamp tells us in One Thousands Gifts that this Eucharist means thanksgiving and “Thanksgiving-giving thanks in everything-prepares the way that God might show us His fullest salvation in Christ.”

And so this time becomes a feast of thanksgiving – my body and blood reaching out to the one who poured out all of his for the salvation of a broken and hurting world. 6:10 yoga brings me back to the start of who I am – and when it’s over I leave reminded of who I want to be in Christ.

Photo Courtesy of Yoga @ The Lakefront Facebook Group
The 6:10 yoga club has no idea how it’s changing me. I guess I’ve failed to mention this is only my third time to go. Today a new friend joined us, Amee, and we all three made a pack to meet tomorrow – an off yoga day, but at 6:10 to meet the world again with friendship and a nice walk around the lake.  I can’t wait.

I know what it will be like. The sky will start out pale grey and then explode into pinks, purples and yellows and the morning sun will finally conquer the darkness.

This morning I think there was an actual sun-worshipper. I watched him in between my tree pose and mountain stance. He raised his arms up over and over. The sun pouring over him like the washing of baptismal waters and I almost cried. I don’t know if he knew the maker of that sun, but I prayed that he did. I prayed right then and there that as his arms reached forth that Christ’s love would reach out to him. And he and I, and the 6:10 Yoga Club raised our arms above our heads, and bowed to the start of a brand new day. Namaste. Amen.  

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Southern Oak

It’s been said that it will kill the tree - the lazy Spanish moss that drapes itself over the Southern Oak towering across the street. I walk, feeling the Florida evening air blow around me, it’s humid in it’s breath, with just a whisper of cool -- and I listen while the setting sun plays kaleidoscope as it glints through the branches.

Then I hear the words.  “You are like that tree. “ Five minutes earlier I was talking on the phone with my best friend and teasing that my cell phone would die soon. “Oh, no,” I said.  “I’m about to be alone with my thoughts, this is an extroverts worst nightmare!” But, I know it needed to happen. I knew it was time to hear.

You are like that tree.

Southern. Stout. Proud. Strong. Firm Foundation. When the wind blows you easily sway, never rocked at the roots. You are like that tree.

However, Life -- Life is the Spanish moss.

Wrapped around your limbs, pulling at the branches. Growing, stretching, and yes, sometimes even sucking the very essence of being out of its host.

Spanish moss only grows in trees that have an abundance of leaves. It doesn’t cling to trees that grow only straight up. It’s needs a reach that’s long, and wide, and able to bring in all the nutrients it needs to live. Spanish Moss is about survival.

It’s a parasite – leeching off another to grow. Swinging from branch to branch, sprawling itself out like your sister-in-laws ex-boyfriend on your sofa that time you let him live with you.

It doesn’t take no for an answer – the tree has no choice but to entertain the moss there, pushing aside its place in the sun so that the moss has full access to the warmth.

Yes. You are like that tree.

You don’t need the moss to live. But, the moss needs you.

The oldest boy wakes up for the hundredth time tonight. Clinging to you, wrapping his skinny arms around your neck and holding on for dear life. “Mommy, I need you to warm me up,” he says.

The e-mails stack up one by one. They beckon an answer -- begging you to breath life into the work you’ve been given.

A life of opportunity – foliage in full bloom. Husband, kids, ministry, travel, and more – the leaves grow and grow and grow. And the moss works its web through the boughs, filling in the gaps and spaces until some days you can’t even bend for all the burden.

But, you are like the tree. And the tree – Oh my God, is it beautiful.

If, for one moment, you removed the long, flowing, moss from the branches all that would be left would be twigs and sprigs – a half full tree.

But – it’s the moss – the way it lingers and lounges across the full breadth of the oak that brings the real beauty. It’s the deep crevices covered with wisps of jade braided through the boughs that makes people stop, stare, and admire the tree for all its abundant worth.

It’s the way the sun, as it sets on the day, winks through the leafy chaos – to reveal the majesty of a life well lived.

Yes. You.

You Are Like That Tree.