Grace and Yoga

About this grace thing… I’m hoping anyone who cares will give me a little. Clearly, I’m bad with consistency when I don’t HAVE to write. I’m excellent on a deadline, but that only highlights my subservience to extrinsic motivation. There’s a wart for you. Will someone please tell me I have to write?

Today is the day after Labor Day. It seems like the new year has begun. So, here is one of my New Year’s Resolutions: I resolve to blog more often. Non-linear Me is saying, “Bet that would sound really strange in 1959…” Cynical Me is saying, “Like you care…” Maybe you do and I need to have a bit more grace for myself, but there’s another wart: self-criticism. Anyway. For me, the blogging is about discipline and accountability. To whom, you may ask? Aside from myself, I guess, to the masses. Have you had your opiate today?

So, like I said. About this grace thing. To be honest, it’s not going as well as I might have hoped, but if I’m gracious to myself, I’ll concede that a lot of it may be hormonally driven. Speaking of driving, if I could just get rid of the need to get in my car and drive it, I think I’d have a lot of my grace problem solved. But then I’d still have to answer to my husband and my daughter who see everything. Good thing they love me. And I can make them laugh which is a great diffuser of tension. As is yoga. And herein lies my thought for New Year’s Day, September 8, 2009:

Imagining a gracious life is kind of like watching the yoga DVDs they play in Lululemon: you can visualize yourself on that beach in Hawaii, wearing those tights, looking that lean and, yes, being THAT flexible, but once you get the DVD home, roll out your own sticky waffle mat, greet the clouds (hey, I live in Seattle), and begin to personalize yoga, you realize that it’s WAY harder than it looks. I mean it. These people are moving so slowly, it’s ridonkulous.* But when you do what they do, it hurts.

How does this relate to grace? Well, it’s easy to watch grace (and yoga) happen, and even to imagine that it would be possible to do it yourself. But when you actually put yourself in a position (pun entirely intended) to do it, you come face-to-face with your own inflexibility. I think of doing the Astavakrasana pose.  HP_214_Astavakrasana_248Seriously. I can’t pronounce it, but I think about it, and being an ex-gymnast, I can actually get partway there – even at 50 – before I start crying (metaphorically) because it hurts. Then, I think of something I saw on TV a couple years ago that literally made me cry. Washington’s Green River Killer, Gary Ridgway, was in court, facing the families of some of the 48 women he killed between 1982 and 1998. Most of the victims’ relatives were twisted with bitterness, venting their pain-soaked rage at him, some inviting him to rot in hell. He sat, poker-faced, as they hurled venom at him. Suddenly, this happened, as reported in the Seattle PI, on December 19, 2003:

“As Ridgway listened in court, he… broke down when the father of one of his victims offered forgiveness. It was Robert Rule, a white-bearded man with gentle eyes who works as a mall Santa Claus each year. ‘Mr. Ridgway, there are people here who hate you,’ said Rule, whose 16-year-old daughter, Linda, was killed in 1982. ‘I’m not one of them. I forgive you for what you’ve done.’ As Ridgway gazed at Rule, Ridgway’s lips began to tremble. He started to cry and quickly turned away to wipe his eyes.”

I started weeping when I saw that. I wept in part because I was moved by Rule’s forgiveness – and Ridgway’s reaction to it – but also in part because I knew, in the core of my being, that I was more likely to have been one of the other people, letting the monster know how he ruined my life. I wept because I thought, I probably couldn’t do that. It was like the Astavakrasana pose of grace.

In truth, grace is far more difficult than yoga. Here’s why: you can’t practice grace unless you go through life experiences that require forgiveness and these are usually far more painful than yoga poses. All the more reason to practice small acts of forgiveness – like not getting mad when someone cuts you off in traffic – so you get in shape for larger acts of forgiveness. And all the more reason to seek instruction from the Master of Grace who turned the world upside down when, as he was being falsely accused, beaten, ridiculed, whipped, unjustly convicted and nailed to a cross, said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”


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