Posted by: Lisa | April 15, 2014

Outward/Inward Being is One

“I and my Father are one.”  (John 10:30)

The word “yoga” means union.  It means bringing things together.  How we choose to interpret this depends on where we are on our journey at this point.  For me, originally it meant:  Union of body and mind.  Later, it meant, “union of body and breath.”  Then:  Union of body, mind and spirit.  Now, for me it means:  Union with God.  I believe that is the ultimate purpose of Yoga practice – a practice that has existed for thousands of years.  Some people choose to move in that direction, while other people choose to focus on getting a physical workout.  There’s no right or wrong answer.  Well, perhaps the only possible “wrong” answer is staying stuck in our practices and our beliefs – refusing to grow and change into maturity.

Jesus said:  “I and my Father are one.”  That’s Union.  That’s what Yoga means by Union.  Therefore, Jesus was a Yogi (see Paramahansa Yogananda’s The Yoga of Jesus).  Christians believe that the only way to God the Father is through Jesus Christ.  However, Christians also believe in the Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – who is One.  So – it seems to me that we can get to union with God through any part of the Trinity, since the Trinity really cannot be divided.  Some folks may choose to go through Jesus Christ, while others relate more to the action of the Holy Spirit in their lives.  Plus, who says we can’t just go directly to God the Father?  That’s what Hindu Yogis do.  That’s what Jews do as well.

I have a meditative phrase that I’ve been using off and on in my yoga classes for years:  “May our outward and inward being become One.”  Today I saw the connection of that prayer to Jesus’ statement, “I and my Father are One.”  Jesus realized his union with God, his inward Being.  Aspiring yogis are moving in that direction, reaching out for God Who is first reaching for us.  We love God because God loves us first.  Eventually, we’ll no longer be so aware of self and God; we’ll simply be aware of Love, of Union.  All that seems separate will appear as they truly are, as One.

Posted by: Lisa | April 9, 2014

See the Serpents

“Then the people came to Moses and said, ‘We have sinned in complaining against the LORD and you. Pray the LORD to take the serpents away from us.’ So Moses prayed for the people, and the LORD said to Moses, ‘Make a saraph [serpent] and mount it on a pole, and whoever looks at it after being bitten will live.’”
(Numbers 21:7-8)

Regarding this Scripture passage, the Lent 2014 issue of The Word Among Us says:  “When Moses lifted up the bronze serpent, the people who gazed on it saw two things.  First, they got a graphic look at their own sins.  Grumbling, blaming, complaining are as deadly as serpents.  They slither their way between people and interfere with God’s ability to take care of them.  Second, they got a look at God’s mercy; whoever looked at the bronze serpent was instantaneously healed.”

This made me realize that in order to be healed of our various sins, faults and weaknesses (whatever they may be), we need to be willing to look directly at them, to REALLY see them.  Our tendency is to look the other way, to pretend we don’t see anything wrong with us, or to see only what we want to see.  Sometimes, we think we see our faults, when in reality we’re only seeing part of the true problem.  For example, we may see our angry words in response to someone who criticizes us – but we fail to see that beneath the anger lies our pride, our belief that we are above criticism of any kind.  The anger will remain unhealed as long as the pride is unhealed.  The only way to be healed is to look directly and honestly at the true fault, acknowledge it, and turn it over to God who has the power to remove it.

Let us ask the Lord to give us the courage to look directly at our weaknesses and accept His healing in our lives.

Posted by: Lisa | March 24, 2014

Is Fitness Your Religion?

Back in the 90s, I read (and loved!) a book called Fitness is Religion by Ray Kybartas.  At that time, I guess I classified myself as agnostic on the way to becoming atheist.  The idea of fitness as religion made total sense to me.  Physical fitness can be so demanding and all-consuming:  how much cardio to do; how often to lift weights; what and how much food to eat, etc.  It requires true dedication, even devotion – especially if one is pursuing some type of competition, whether it be marathons, power lifting or general fitness competitions.  The book included all sorts of lists and charts with recommendations for specific workouts and diet plans.

There’s something within us that’s drawn to religious feeling/practice, to “worship” of some kind.  If we’re not worshiping the One true God, the Lord of the universe, then we will be worshiping something else.  Our culture typically worships money and power.  Yet it’s also very easy to worship our bodies – idolizing physical fitness, beauty or youthfulness.  Of course, there’s nothing wrong with being fit, young or beautiful, but we would be wise to remember that all those things are impermanent.  We should care for our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:19) so we have the strength and vitality needed to do God’s work in this world.  But health/fitness is only one part of living a balanced life.

Let us ask ourselves who or what we are worshiping in our daily lives.

St. Paul reminds us:  “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.  Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.  They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever” (1 Corinthians 9:24-25).

Posted by: Lisa | March 16, 2014

Croaking

Wipers hop, skip and jump
across my windshield.
I cringe at the chilling croak.
Can’t wait to climb in bed
and pull the covers over my head.

Posted by: Lisa | March 15, 2014

On the Way

Late Friday eve drive
from Richmond to Norfolk,
I prayed: O Lord,
please part the red sea
of tail lights before me;
save me from the furious,
blinding machines bearing
down behind me; pluck
me from the path of foes
who curse my existence.
You, I know, always
show the way to fly free.

Posted by: John | March 10, 2014

I AM Present!

I keep hearing about how we’re supposed to just live in the present moment, stop thinking about the past and worrying about the future.

I just realized, I DO live in the present! When I allow every pissy-assed little issue that comes up to anger me, I’m not being grateful for the gifts I’ve been given in the past – nor am I being hopeful that in the future I can calm down. So, there.

Posted by: John | March 9, 2014

Slip Through

I’d like to see if I could become a non-entity
and slip through a crack in reality.

Posted by: Lisa | March 6, 2014

Lose Your Life

“Jesus said to all:  ‘If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.’”
(Luke 9:23-24)

“Just as we all have a mission – a way of contributing to God’s kingdom that we were designed and gifted for – we also have what might be called a shadow mission.  My shadow mission is what I will do with my life if I drift on autopilot.  It consists of the activities toward which I will gravitate if I allow my natural temptations and selfishness to take over.  Everybody has a shadow mission.”
(from John Ortberg’s book, When the Game is Over, It All Goes Back in the Box)

These quotes remind me that, as Christians, we aren’t allowed to do what we want to do with our lives.  If we truly wish to follow Jesus, then we must do the will of God – not our own will.  This, obviously, can be a tough pill to swallow, especially for those of us in the West who are taught to be individuals, to go after our dreams.  There’s nothing we can’t have or do!

For me, these quotes also bring up the issues of karma and reincarnation.  Ortberg’s idea of a “shadow mission” needs some sort of explanation.  I agree that we each have a shadow mission (maybe more than one), but where does it come from?  Perhaps it comes from past lives where we developed certain skills that our mind/heart/soul instinctively wants to duplicate.  Perhaps it comes from choices we’ve made in the past.

Here’s an example:  My “shadow mission” seems to be living the life of a hermit.  I feel strongly called to live a life of silence and solitude focused on prayer and penance for the salvation of the world.  I have been fighting with this “call” for ten years.  Where could such a calling originate if not in a past life?  If it were merely a figment of my imagination it would have faded away by now.  If I chose to, I could manipulate the circumstances of my life to become a hermit.  (I actually did so in 2007 – with disastrous results).  If such were my true calling in this life, however, then God would arrange everything for me to follow the call.  If I ignore God and just do what I want to do, then as Jesus says, I’m actually losing my life rather than saving it.  The key is to willingly lose my life (give up trying to attain my dream/goal of becoming a hermit) to be a true follower of the Lord.

Some years ago, I realized that nobody I know is living the life they would like to be living.  (I’m a yoga teacher but I want to be a hermit!)  There’s always something “wrong” or “missing” or “unfulfilled.”  For Christians, this is “the cross” we are asked to carry.  Those who wish to follow Jesus choose to carry the cross daily – with joy.  Not in sorrow or anger or resignation.  With joy.  Is it easy?  Of course not.  Does it get easier?  I hope so.

Posted by: Lisa | March 5, 2014

The Commute

Windshields coated
with ice resist
attempts to clear.
Resort to pouring
lukewarm water.
Chip, dig, scrape, push
broken sheets away.
Huff and puff amid
freezing cold at 5AM.
What must be endured
to reach minimum-
wage paying job.

Rich bastard
kicked back with coffee,
feet on table, watching
rows of brake lights
from picture window.
He smiles, shakes his head:
“Poor suckers.”

Posted by: Lisa | March 4, 2014

Discipleship Moment

This year, I’m enjoying a small group study on Discipleship at Second Presbyterian Church.  We’ve been discussing what discipleship means to us, how we can better follow the Lord and do the work he is inviting us to do in the world.

One interesting topic is how to know what kinds of things the Lord asks of us.  Does he want us to become missionaries in Africa?  Does he want us to serve the poor and the homeless in our own city?  What should we do?

We are discussing the fact that God has given each of us certain gifts which he intends for us to use for the betterment of this world he created.  There are many types of gifts, such as:  discernment, faith, evangelism, serving, music, wisdom, hospitality, intercession, and teaching.  Once we can see our spiritual gifts, we’re more likely to realize ways of using them for God’s glory.  The underlying theme is that God is not asking us to force ourselves to do extraordinary things, to take on tasks for which we feel unequipped.

Sometimes it’s the seemingly little things that make a big difference.  If we can go about our days with our eyes, ears and hearts open, we will see all sorts of opportunities to love God and love our neighbors by using our gifts.  For example:

Last week, I called the mother of a friend of mine because she has been collecting old books for me on Franciscan spirituality.  This sweet lady is about 80 years old and her husband is 82.  She started telling me all about how she cares for her husband who is suffering from dementia, and about her fears of it becoming Alzheimer’s.  She said a friend of hers recommended that she get in contact with the local Alzheimer’s Association to get info about support groups, rides, etc.  I could tell from the way she was talking that she really wanted to get in touch with them but didn’t know how.  I said, “Let me see if I can find their number.”  So, I pulled up the Alzheimer’s Association on the internet and gave her the local number.  She was so grateful!  She kept saying, “Oh, this is really an answer to prayer.”  The whole thing was amazing because it was obvious to me that God inspired me to call her because she needed help (not to find out about the books).  What I did for her was so simple (and easy for me) – but it made a big difference to her.  This is how God works.

Let’s go about our days in the confidence that God will show us exactly how, when and where to use our spiritual gifts.  Each moment has the potential to be a discipleship moment.

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