Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

(This probably will need to be edited. I wrote it for me and am sharing it because it feels right. I'm a feeler. )

The whir of the kitchen aid mixer resounded in my ears as the front door swung shut behind me. My body knew what to do. The cold air enveloped me, swooshing in the holes in my shoes. It didn’t matter. I kicked the shoes off, climbing the ladder and through the net. The trampoline was frozen, causing the mat that covered the springs to break from its usual soft thud into a loud clap, every bounce clapped louder and louder.

Thwack. Thwack. Thwack. With each bounce, I exerted more of my pent up energy, stored from the feasting of Christmas and the family-directed regimen of the day. I hadn’t wanted to sit in the kitchen for the card game. Thwack. I can’t believe I ate that gummy candy. Thwack. Why couldn’t we be one of those active families that goes on hikes together? Thwack. I’d put my foot in my mouth too many times to count today. Thwack.

As my legs pushed harder and harder into the trampoline’s surface, I wished I could fling my body in the millions of flips I’d seen my brother do. Instead, I hopped around, starting each hop with purpose. I’d had my fill for the day and we had yet to eat Christmas dinner.

As my bouncing incarnated my tension, a strange thing happened. With every push deeper into the surface, my body refused to rocket up as high as before. I was exhausting myself, and my throat rasped as I drew in each cold gasp of air. The anxiety faded as I was left with only the desire for a full breath. My jumps grew smaller in the still pre-dusk, my breaths louder. Such is life for an exercised-induced asthmatic. Phlegm always fills those tiny, critical pockets in my lungs when it’s cold out.

Panting, I dismounted the trampoline, sliding into my clogs. I noticed only my breath as I walked into the house. It felt holy somehow. Just me and my breath.

In Judaism, one of the names for God is unpronounceable. However, some scholars have noted that the name written in English as YHWH sounds a lot like someone breathing. So when Moses asked this unseeable being what his name was, he heard the sound of God’s breath. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale.

Yoga would not be yoga without the emphasis of breath. There is a profound awareness of moving with your breath, lengthening each draw in and release, settling into your own body’s rhythm. Each movement occurs on an inhale or an exhale. That breath must be yours, not your instructor’s, not your neighbor’s. Within each pose, there is a dynamic balance of the ebb and flow of oxygen. Those waves of breath hold you in the pose, draw you deeper, release you from it and transition you into the next one.

If God’s name, the very identity of God, sounds like breathing, it is no great leap to say that God is in each breath we take. And if, as in yoga, our breath moves us from place to place, holds us there and leads us out, perhaps it is unnecessary to search for God “out there”. That’s what incarnation is, isn’t it? That’s what Christmas is - celebrating that God, this “other” being/existence became a human. Encountering God went from a usually petrifying experience some spirit that was hovering or in fire, clouds, water, or the stillness of a mountain, to eating, fasting, drinking wine, or even giving birth. Our humanness becomes a way to experience God. Or rather, God experiences our humanness and leaves us with new eyes to see it as holy.

So friend, know today, on Christmas, that you are holy. You bear the presence of God in your body. When you least feel that way, take a deep breath. Enjoy the air and the miracle of life that you are.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Friday, December 17, 2010

Best day ever...

Listen to quote

"So, Dad, I planned out our whole day. First we'll make snow angels for two hours, and then we'll go ice skating, and then we'll eat a whole roll of toll house cookie dough as fast as we can, and then to finish, we'll snuggle."

Monday, December 6, 2010

Open arms

Hello blog readers,

How are you? What's going on in your lives as you read this? Are you mindlessly internet surfing? Looking to see if I've updated the blogaroo? It strikes me that blogs are slightly weird. Well, they're weird in a lot of ways, but especially because I feel like sometimes I click the link that says "New Post" and then proceed to word vomit all over the screen. It's like when I start a phone conversation with a close friend and it jumps from "Ellen!!" to me rattling off "So, today at work..." without so much as a hello back to the other party. This even happens to me at work. A teacher comes in the room and I jump in with both feet, "Where do you want me to stack these papers?" Almost every single time, I think "Dang. I just skipped the greeting and went for maximum efficiency." My Spaniard self HATES when I do that. What about the relationship? What about the obligatory "How was your weekend?" I wish there was a less clichéd way of saying "How are you?" I really mean "It's good to see you. Is there anything going on that you want to share with me (because I'd be happy to listen) or shall we dispense with pleasantries and move on to what's happening now?"

Perhaps this is why the question gets boiled down to a quick, "how's it going?"

ANYWAY, all this as an intro to what complused me to come straight up to my room and jump on Ned the MacBook, click on Firefox (what a strange name for a browser.), and go to Blogger before I even did the compulsive email/ FB scan.

I've been wondering why sometimes I feel uncomfortable around Christians. This may strike you as odd if you know that I do - in fact - profess faith in Christianity. But for some reason, for a number of years (two), I have been much more comfortable in public* settings that are decidedly achristian. (This may be an invented word. Let's hope so.) I have struggled with articulating why this is to those who are more comfortable in Christian contexts.

Today I found myself in a situation where I thought I might be being evangelized. To diffuse the situation, I hurriedly explained that I too was "a believer"**. Immediately, I felt as if this kind woman created a little wall around us that separated us from the rest of the world. WE were Christians... THEY were on the outside. Except... I feel more similar - I think - to those on the outside. And I like it out there. I can think creatively... outside the box... outside the expectations of those inside the box. It's only outside the box that I feel like I CAN be a Christian. Because it's not uniform. It's just part of me. So in building aforementioned wall, I felt isolated.

And the other, more important part of this analogy is that Jesus never says a lot of good things about walls or about people who try to hang with only the ones on the inside. Au contraire, Pierre. Jesus likes to hang with the folks*** who have been kicked out for NOT being religious.

I am certainly a measly beginner when it comes to this. But I want to keep trying to begin, no matter how daunting it seems, to meet everyone with open arms, even people who have a more closed view of life.

*I almost forgot the "l" in public. That would have been awk.
**A strange term in itself. I'm pretty sure everyone believes in SOMETHING, even if it is that you believe in nothing. HA paradox... Anyway, yes, I'm a believer in lots of things, including that my father should not tuck his casual shirts into his jeans. Also I believe in love, that peace is a better way, and that fashion should not cause anyone - wearer or seamstress- pain.
*** My English textbook in Spain cited "folks" as the American way of saying "relatives/ parents." I was unaware that this is a distinctly USA-ian noun, but it makes sense.

PS. I think that it was a very natural reaction for that woman to create a little world of Christianity around us. It's natural to seek community with those who are similar to us... as if we'd both just discovered we were from Tennessee or given birth to quadruplets. Or both.

PPS. I do not edit my blog posts. I might look this over once it's published, but otherwise, it's straight from the horse's mouth.

PSS. (Does that even come next?) If you're still with me, kudos. Also, in closing, have a good week and hasta la próxima!