This isn’t really a Christmas post or maybe it is in some way as you may get the message of the season hidden in the words. I know it’s been processing in my mind for awhile now.
This is the day I get to teach yoga at my church, Massanutten Presbyterian. This is the little white church where I was baptized and where I was rocked in the nursery. Where Mrs. Sutton taught me the words to “Jesus Loves Me” and made me feel my nickel for the Sunday School offering was precious in the eyes of God. This is the church where my sisters and I would start hinting to Dad (usually around 11:30 when we knew he was getting hungry) to go to Bonanza afterwards. This is the church where my piano teacher, Mrs. Newman, invited me to play a piano piece to open up Sunday school one morning. This is the brick church where my mom took Cathy and me to the kitchen to give us a well deserved swat on our behinds because we kept fighting during the Christmas cantata practice. (Honestly, sitting through cantata practice taught me a lot of patience). This is the church that sometimes disagreed about issues like taking the step to build a new sanctuary, the wording of what it means to be a Christian and now gay marriage. Some left. Some stayed. Many will continue to leave, but many more will seek the acceptance of this community of faith. This is the church where all are welcome to partake of communion because of God’s grace. This is the church where my children learned Bible stories (and questioned many on the ride home) and what it means to have a foundation of faith. This is the church where I was invited to become part of a committee years ago to find a new pastor who continues to be a blessing through his wisdom, patience and gentle words. This is the church where the kids and I sat beside my Dad for the last time before the meningitis took his life less than two weeks later. This is where his family and about 1,000 other friends honored his life the day before Easter. This is the church that let me go to follow my husband and helped me find another church family in Franklin, TN. This is the church that prayed for my family and where I had to painfully walk the aisle as a young widow with my children on each arm. This is the church that opened its arms to receive my family once again this past summer.
Now, once a week, I get to teach yoga here. I don’t do it to make money, brand my yoga teaching style or to compete with another yoga teacher or studio. It’s free. I do it not out of duty, but in return for what they have given to me. My favorite moment of the night comes when I get to give restorative touch at the end of the practice during savasanna. My 77 year old mother is last in the line. I save some extra time just for her. Initially, she would strain to lift her neck to help me as I cradled her head. Wow there is so much of who she is right there as she must have thought there had to be something else to do and refused to surrender to receive the gift of my touch without helping me. This moment is never lost on me as I press on her shoulders encouraging her to empty her lungs and all the burdens she carries. I rub essential oils through her silver hair, and press my thumbs along her forehead, down her temples, and along her ears, never forgetting the pain she went through as she learned to find a new normal without her life partner. What an honor to give this touch to my mother who has given completely of herself to her family and church family for all these years. So simple yet so powerful. All the yoga speak that I have heard by teachers over the years, the meditation, the beautiful idea of ahimsa (non harm) and memorization of the sanskrit words for the yoga poses (asanas) mean absolutely nothing if your intentions are self-serving and you aren’t living the words you speak. I’m not your yoga teacher if you are seeking someone who has received multiple training experiences from world renowned yoga teachers across the world, memorized the sutras or even know much of the history of yoga. I’m not a yoga guru nor will I ever be famous for the words I say in class. I won’t become rich from teaching yoga nor would I even be able to support myself and my kids on what I make from yoga. I teach yoga so that I can cradle my Mom’s head and rub lavender oil on her temples. That’s it.
**If you are in the Harrisonburg area and you want to open your mind and body to the experience of yoga, please join us every Wednesday at 5:30 (with the exception of the first Wednesday of the month) for free yoga. Even if you can’t touch your toes, you can join us. 🙂 We accept a donation to our backpack ministry to bring weekend meals to children in poverty in the community.