At three weeks and three days I saw my physical therapist, who promptly threw his arms up in the air aghast as I walked through the door. “I can’t help you! No one walks in here like this after a hip replacement!” he said. “You don’t need me!”
(We then proceeded to lay out a plan of action that honors both my personal desire to have support for my continued recovery and his excitement with my body’s amazing progress.)
One thing I’ve come to learn this summer: I need people, in the form of support, connection, inspiration, and affirmation. I’ve also learned that to rest in my vulnerability and humility doesn’t diminish my intelligence nor my innate capacities. (Count that as one more personal “belief system” that was burned away in this process!)
My return to teaching has been joyful, poignant, sweet. And I look forward to seeing more of you on the yoga mat and enjoying our downward dogs together!
Held in Love
Yesterday was the anniversary of 9/11. On that day in 2001, I was at 9000 ft, in the red rocks of Utah, immersed in a yoga training. The news came on a small TV during the 7 am class, which I had opted out of in exchange for a phone call to the east coast. Little did I or my mother know what would happen shortly after our call ended. Once the news broke, phone lines to NY were jammed for hours. The only call I was able to successfully make was to my friend and teacher, Catherine Ingram, who was in CA at the time.
We spoke about Love… specifically Love in the face of tragedy; and how sometimes the longing for and pain surrounding Love becomes so twisted that people act in tragic, tragic ways. We also spoke so tenderly about how tragedy awakens us to love, even through the most grotesque of griefs with which we are confronted.
Today, I’m reflecting on and celebrating all the many, many ways in which Love shows up in my life (both the luminous and the “tragic” expressions); and most of all, the beauty of that Love that we are at once “choicelessly” immersed in and being magnetically pulled home to.
My hip surgery required me to rest for more hours in the day than I would usually indulge. Gazing out the sliding glass doors to the garden, I repeatedly rested in the Love that is holding all of us, choicelessly. In other words, even when we are not choosing to rest in this love, it still holds us.
The day after 9/11, it was my turn to student teach in the yoga training I was attending. I was overwhelmed, thirsty, and profoundly aware of the enormity of life events surrounding all of us. Spontaneously, a quote I’d heard years prior came to my heart; and it hasn’t left since:
“Be there a lover of God who is kept safe from falling, I know not of it. For it was not shown to me.
But this was shown to me: that in rising and falling and rising again, we are always held in the same precious Love.”
- Julian of Norwich
Panini, Poetry, and Playfulness
One of the greatest blessings of these past many weeks is the continuous opportunity to connect with friends in a myriad of ways. I recently celebrated friendship with a “Panini and Poetry” party. Everyone brought ingredients for building panini sandwiches and for “building” poems. The challenge that I drew from the hat: write your own “Invitation” (based on Oriah Mountain Dreamer’s version).
Our sandwiches were not perfect, but they were perfectly delicious. And, like this, our poems did not have to be perfect, just perfectly spontaneous. In the spirit of playfulness, I’m sharing mine with you here:
It doesn’t interest me what your resume says, even your life resume. I want to know where you’ve been willing to wander into the wilderness of your longing. And if you haven’t wandered, how you’ve kept your heart alive inside the boundaries you imposed.
It doesn’t interest me to know what you own, but rather what owns you – what compels you in the middle of the dark night, in the luminous sky of dawn, when your life swells with hopefulness, and when it ebbs with dissappointment?
It doesn’t interest me to know what other people did to you… I want to know what you did in return. How did you hold their heart in yours?
I want to know if you’ve welcomed loss or fear or even minor frustration as a whisper from the beyond, saying “Here, turn here for love’s calling.”
I want to know if your heart breaks when you see injustice, poverty, human righteousness, or violence. Do you grieve these separations from God?
I want to know the vastness in you – like the night sky – that welcomes the twinkling stars that emerge when darkness settles.
Even more, I want to know that you know your own vastness; that you welcome darkness – your own, mine, humanity’s – to open your heart to what shines within the night.
I want to know that love touches and frightens you – that you get goose bumps when you see the God in another: a school child on a swing, an elderly woman holding up traffic as she crosses the street, the light in the eye of one who has just remembered.
I’m not interested in which organizations you donate money to, I want to know that you salivate to be of service, and that you will follow through on your big dream – whether it’s re-building Haiti or working with orphans in Mumbai.
It doesn’t interest me how much yoga you can do nor how far you can hike. I want to know that you can feel the pulse of nature in your bones, and respond as an instrument in the orchestra of God. Do you know how to rise, how to crescendo, how to soften, how to profoundly rest, how to allow your body to lead you in the music?
Anne Hillman reminds you of the journeys into love that you have tasted and been haunted by, Rumi makes your heart flutter, James Hollis quenches a certain thirst, Mary Oliver echoes your awe, Rainer Marie Rilke sends you into the expanse of sky that knows no right-doing or wrong-doing…
You don’t have to resurrect your playfulness. In spite of some of the turmoils of life, your laughter still rises spontaneously.
And friends know you’ll welcome them in any condition…without launching advice or competing with their thunder. In fact, you’re the one they call, and you’re not too old for a slumber party to console or to celebrate!
Still, you crave a beer after sweaty garden work and pizza sounds good with football games. You play Scrabble as a contact sport; and useless TV brings your right hemisphere back to the planet…
Plans don’t control you, but you’ve got pickles in the fridge when you’re having burgers on the grill. Once in a while, you’re missing an ingredient – and the need for creativity excites you!
It doesn’t interest me to know what you think of you, I want to know who you’ve been to others…and I want to know that your family is the family of humanity, an all embracing, ever widening invitation for your heart to sing.