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(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

Still embroiled in the yoga changes here, but am trying to breathe and stay in the moment. As a woman—named Sunshine appropriately enough—said in Saturday’s makeshift class in the park, this abrupt change is just the Universe saying that now is the time to make way for something better to happen.

The community recreation center has served me well in so many ways over the last twenty-some years. While pregnant, I took water exercise classes—an exercise itself since my twin-pregnancy-bladder could not even make it through a one hour class. A year later my husband and I were bringing our twins to infant swimming classes, learning games such as “motor boat, motor boat go so slow” and helping them chase down rubber ducks.

T-ball and baseball, tumbling, dance, and swim lessons—our kids learned in the local community. The fellow townspeople we did not first meet at school, we met at the rec center and in the parks.

And as the kids grew, I found more time to return for my own classes. Step aerobics, fitness classes, (outside) water exercise, Pilates, ZUMBA, and yoga. My community circle kept growing as I met people—older and younger—who did not have kids the same age as mine were.

But of all the classes I’ve joined, my yoga classes have been the best community-builders. Yoga is more than a fitness class—it is a way of life. Because of that most people who start taking classes just keep coming session after session, even if they have to miss a few classes from time to time.

The more you place your mat next to someone else’s mat, month after month, year after year, the more you start to realize that you are becoming kindred spirits. Your backgrounds, lifestyles, whatever may be different, but when you give in to doing individual poses, partner poses, or group circle poses in the same space, the more you realize that you have to trust these people—at bare minimum—not to ridicule you, but also to cheer you on when you’re close to achieving a pose that has eluded you for years or to spot you when you try something really difficult. You start to know who is always looking for stress relief or who is experiencing grief or whose hip is in trouble or who is starting to become comfortable and fit in his or her own body. These people see you in very vulnerable—and not very attractive—positions. And every class ends with each of you resting in savasana, eyes closed, trusting that no one else will harm you.

You become a close community, as together you work to remain open. Though a few people float in and out of that community, many remain constant, dedicated to a way of life, led by a particular teacher.

This sense of belonging with these kindred spirits is what I most want to keep from our community. As we transition from a group that meets together in one particular place with one particular teacher to those who stay with the place and those who go with the teacher, may we never forget that what we have shared together cannot be taken from us. My community has grown from a particular place, but is not limited to that place.

Om shanti, my friends. Peace . . .

(c) 2009 Christiana Lambert

Sometimes it is too much, being able to know about so many people’s sorrows and needs in real-time. Whether the news is about a baby with a life-threatening condition or someone in great pain or a terminal diagnosis or the loss of someone’s dog, with our social media networks we keep in touch with so many people that our awareness of loss and difficulties is heightened.

All these life events have always happened and perhaps we learned of them from a distance and after time passed. Of course, we ached for people, but often we had lost contact with those we knew in different phases of our lives. Their news was more some vague sort of “circle of life” thing that did not touch us in the same way news touches us when someone is currently in our lives.

And, yet, the benefit of remaining connected is gaining the understanding that what any of us goes through individually is part of some larger human condition. We are not alone in our paths—there really is someone out there who does know what we are going through, even if those closest in our everyday lives have never experienced what we are experiencing. Sometimes walking on a similar journey takes strangers or near-strangers and makes them into lifelong friends, whether or not they ever meet in “real” life.

Who is to say how the prayers of random people we may know just a little or not at all make a difference? Just God, I guess.

So, though our awareness of others’ burdens is increased, so also is our ability to lift up those in need.

For that reason alone, for me, the scales weigh in the favor of extending my contacts versus reducing them. Some days I may need to circle my wagons against the weight of the world, but that doesn’t take away the world’s great needs.

As much as others–including those who do not know me well–have given me support, I know the only way to live my gratitude is to pass on that support to others. Whenever I can, I open that circle—and pray.

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

We live in divisive times, no doubt about it. However, I believe the problem is exacerbated because, often, those with that kinder, gentler voice don’t share their words. For sure, I am guilty of this—yes, I was raised in that “run from conflict” culture so common in the Midwest. Sometimes I wonder what lessons my silence has taught my own children.

This past Sunday, those in churches that follow the lectionary heard the Beatitudes from the book of Luke (6:20-31). True, Luke’s version of the Beatitudes is shorter than Matthew’s listing, not even mentioning peacemakers. But in Luke we get to the “turn the other cheek” part—we are admonished to “(l)ove (our) enemies, do good to those who hate (us), bless those who curse (us), pray for those who mistreat (us). (6:27-28, NIV) If that’s not peacemaking, I don’t know what is.

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

Sadly, some faith groups twist God’s words to promote hate. God doesn’t hate anyone—he hates sin. While even reasonable people often do not agree on what that sin is, I think it’s clear that God does not promote trying to separate others from sin by using hatred and name-calling.

While we were visiting the kids, we were able to attend a local church, Christ the King Lutheran Church (ELCA) to hear those beatitudes read to us. In Rev. John Knutson’s sermon “Praise God for Hard Times,” he continued the theme and talked about how God makes us seem a little crazy to the world when we care about others.

Ironically, just a couple days later, Fort Lewis College and the Durango community had an opportunity to demonstrate that craziness to the world. Only I submit that the “crazies” are the sane ones—loving others is actually more normal than spreading random hate toward people we don’t even know.

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

My kids got a chance to demonstrate random love and peace in community when news arrived that the now infamous (not going to give links to promote them!) Westboro Church would be on campus to protest the showing of the movie “The Anatomy of Hate.” While it made sense the group would protest something that paints them in a dim light, so many of their protests are directed toward people not remotely connected with what they profess God hates—scary how the concept of loving your enemy (people who believe differently than you do) is missing in their words.

Meghan, (c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

Organizers begged participants not to engage, but when necessary, to do that turning of the cheek mentioned in Luke’s words. Despite the information stated on the group’s website, the group did not come to campus after all. Yet their proposed visit drew together over 1,000 students and community members, including faith leaders, the mayor, and college president, to demonstrate love is stronger than hatred.

“. . . and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8b (RSV)

This is the kind of education I pray all our children receive.

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