The birth of Christ is a miracle that happens everyday. Likely, you have experienced it too. After some stretch of darkness. In the winter of the heart. In the daunting face of a reality that we can finally open our eyes and behold. Maybe with someone holding our hand. Usually in some cold manger night, in some strange place, in a challenge that seems insurmountable. Beholding begets humility. It moves us from a place of denial, from a place of anger into the tenuous realm of acceptance. Here looms the ominous threat of annihilation. Can we survive the void? The deep caverns of the unknown? Are we strong enough to make the journey into new life?
I stepped into that chasm about six months ago, when I resigned from my full time job as a youth minister in the Episcopal Church where I had worked for the past ten years and moved to Moorhead, Minnesota as my husband accepted a new teaching position here. When I telephoned the Episcopal Diocese of North Dakota (which includes the Fargo-Moorhead area) they sighed when I inquired about continuing my youth ministry work in the area. I learned that this area (which is Lutheran country) is sort of an Episcopalian mission field. Of the few Episcopal churches in the area (that makes three) most are made up of part time clergy and lay ministers who volunteer their time and talents. And though I have talents and time to share (and will) I also need to help pay the bills. And so my new career search began.
I had this dream, for years I have had this dream, of creating alternative liturgies to help heal the body. Naturally I was drawn to the church. I have considered ordination. (I may still be considering it.) But first, I needed to do something else. I needed to work on my own healing if I wanted to help others heal. So I wrote a memoir to work through the issues in my past. And I began practicing yoga to work on healing my body. When we moved to the great white north, I serendipitously began yoga teacher training.
The practice of yoga is more than postures (or asana). Yoga means to “yoke” or “unite.” Yoga is about wholeness. It is not a religion in itself. Practicing yoga is simply adding to your spiritual toolbox. In asana, we practice uniting the breath (prana) with the movements of the body. The Hebrew word for breath is ruach, and in the story of Genesis 1, it is the breath of God that creates the universe. To be alive–to be filled with spirit–is to be filled with the breath. When we are breathing deeply and fully we are bringing life healing energy into our bodies. We are incarnating the Spirit as we open ourselves to receive the nourishment of our breath. Just this very simple attention and practice of breathing and mindfulness can dramatically change our lives and our health.
I applied for jobs as a baby photographer, as a web designer, I even went looking for bar tending jobs. I started to panic. I began to reassess my dreams and goals. I wasn’t interested in making money just to pay the bills. I wanted to move on the dream in my heart. And so I stepped out it faith. And things started to happen.
Monday night I will begin teaching my first yoga class at The Spirit Room in downtown Fargo. I am developing a class called Healing Yoga. We will fill our bodies with restorative and energizing breath. We will bring the breath into our fears and aches. We will listen to our dreams, sing, chant, and move our bodies like liturgical movements that build to that most holy union of spirit and flesh.
I will also begin teaching at the Fargo YMCA (schedule to follow) which comes with the perks of free child care while I work. I feel like I am beginning another journey into the unknown, carrying these seeds of hope. I also feel carried by invisible hands and so supported by friends and family. I am so grateful to be doing what I love and to witness the universe tending to our basic needs as I pursue the incarnation of my joy in the world.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! I am praying that all of your joy may manifest in the world too.