At one point in the instructional recording, my yoga meditation instructor says, “Experiment with the position of your head, raise your head and bring it toward your legs, not necessarily touching your knees.” Not necessarily touching my knees! I don’t even come close to touching my forehead to my knees. I’m thrilled that my head comes off the floor, and my shoulders move a little bit now too. Not necessarily touching my knees with my forehead?! If only! It makes me laugh every time I hear her say it. “Not necessarily touching your knees”. LOL
But it’s good to have a goal to work toward in my yoga, to know that it’s at least theoretically possible that with patient consistent practice, my tendons and muscles will grow more flexible and so my head and legs will form a U rather than their present hyphen shape. There is already a little progress: in the balance pose I can lift my right leg two inches off the floor while extending my left arm!
But as I was focusing on the breathing, noticing the inhales and exhales, and asking my muscles to stretch and move, I was thinking about two things: 1) I wonder if anyone my age has successfully lost over 100 pounds and maintained that loss; and 2) how is that a white man who murdered 8 people in Atlanta, six of them of Asian descent, was captured alive, and given the rationale by the Sheriff, “He was having a very bad day so this is what he did.”
If my yoga instruction is creating the idea that it’s a slim possibility that some day I might be able to raise my head high enough to reach my knees, then we as human beings should create the expectation for each other that no-one is to be harmed, hurt, dismissed as a person or even killed because we think he or she is “less than”. God doesn’t see anyone that way, we are all in God’s image.
It breaks my heart that the shooter in Atlanta was described as a church-goer. I wish that going to church created a bar for people to treat everyone with respect and dignity. But I will not blame his church, they may well be a group of loving people and Robert Long had a distorted emotional filter for God’s message. But there is track record of Jesus’s message being distorted and used to hurt people: misused to justify slavery and apartheid, Paul’s letter to the Romans used as a weapon, literally and spiritually, to batter LGBTQI people.
One of the things I’ve been learning recently is that it is not the job of Blacks, Asians, or Native Americans to explain racism or to educate me what about systemic racism. Neither is it the job of women to explain sexism and misogyny to men. Those who are experiencing the pain shouldn’t have to explain to those hurting them why it hurts. If someone says our behavior is hurting them, believe them, and then stop doing what’s causing the pain. Also, it’s not up to me decide whether my behavior is racist, those who are affected by my behavior can tell me. I may not be intending to say or do something racist, I may believe that I am free of prejudice, but if I hurt someone, then I was racist. That’s hard to process, but necessary for me to grow as a person, to come closer to “touching my knees” so to speak, embracing the gift that is this multicultural country.
Amanda Gorman recited her beautiful poem, “The Hill We Climb”, at President Biden’s inauguration. She is the first National Youth Poet Laureate, was hailed as a hero. On March 6, she posted on social media that she had been followed home on March 5 by.a security guard, who demanded if she lived in the building because she “looked suspicious”. Even after she let herself with her keye, he didn’t apologize. For shame.
Fear, racism, classism, and every -ism keeps us all from moving closer to becoming a just, peaceful, and loving world. They make us more rigid, and less able “to touch our knees”, further away from recognizing that everyone is a child of God and deserves to be treated that way. If Robert Long can be treated with circumspection by the police, then every life can be treated that way.
Tomorrow, I’ll spread out a beach towel on my carpet to keep the cat dander from sneaking into my lungs while I practice another session of yoga meditation. I will try to bring my head and knees closer together. Miracles happen. I will also commit energy and prayer to acting in such a way that the world is a bit more fair, a bit more kind, a smidge more loving. Miracles can happen!.
Today’s Prayer Poem: The Hill We Climb by Amanda Gorman
When day comes, we ask ourselves, where can we find light in this never-ending shade?
The loss we carry. A sea we must wade.
We braved the belly of the beast.
We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace, and the norms and notions of what “just” is isn’t always justice.
And yet the dawn is ours before we knew it.
Somehow we do it.
Somehow we weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished.
We, the successors of a country and a time where a skinny Black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother can dream of becoming president, only to find herself reciting for one.
And, yes, we are far from polished, far from pristine, but that doesn’t mean we are striving to form a union that is perfect.
We are striving to forge our union with purpose.
To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and conditions of man.
And so we lift our gaze, not to what stands between us, but what stands before us.
We close the divide because we know to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside.
We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another.
We seek harm to none and harmony for all.
Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true.
That even as we grieved, we grew.
That even as we hurt, we hoped.
That even as we tired, we tried.
That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious.
Not because we will never again know defeat, but because we will never again sow division.
Scripture tells us to envision that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid.
If we’re to live up to our own time, then victory won’t lie in the blade, but in all the bridges we’ve made.
That is the promise to glade, the hill we climb, if only we dare.
It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit.
It’s the past we step into and how we repair it.
We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation, rather than share it.
Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy.
And this effort very nearly succeeded.
But while democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated.
In this truth, in this faith we trust, for while we have our eyes on the future, history has its eyes on us.
This is the era of just redemption.
We feared at its inception.
We did not feel prepared to be the heirs of such a terrifying hour.
But within it we found the power to author a new chapter, to offer hope and laughter to ourselves.
So, while once we asked, how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe, now we assert, how could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?
We will not march back to what was, but move to what shall be: a country that is bruised but whole, benevolent but bold, fierce and free.
We will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation, become the future.
Our blunders become their burdens.
But one thing is certain.
If we merge mercy with might, and might with right, then love becomes our legacy and change our children’s birthright.
So let us leave behind a country better than the one we were left.
Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest, we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one.
We will rise from the golden hills of the West.
We will rise from the windswept Northeast where our forefathers first realized revolution.
We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the Midwestern states.
We will rise from the sun-baked South.
We will rebuild, reconcile, and recover.
And every known nook of our nation and every corner called our country, our people diverse and beautiful, will emerge battered and beautiful.
When day comes, we step out of the shade of flame and unafraid.
The new dawn balloons as we free it.
For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it.
If only we’re brave enough to be it.
Grace and peace,