I started taking yoga again around 6 weeks ago. I think the instructor is one of the best preachers I’ve heard regularly even if she probably wouldn’t think of herself in those terms. Two weeks ago she started the session by talking about how beautiful the variety of shades of green are in the spring. And it’s true, even in Texas. Spring brings a freshness, a vibrancy that gets dulled and finally burnt to a crisp over the summer. She went on to say that looking at all of us was like seeing the spring’s greening. It was a core truth for me – we are all beautiful, various expressions of life, of the imago Dei.
Later in class, our instructor talked about standing in mountain pose with our inner body bright. I stood a little taller, rooting down through my feet into the mat, into the floor, into the foundation, into the earth. I stood a little taller, stretching up toward the ceiling, toward the sky, toward the universe. I imagined my soul shining brightly and wondered what color it might be – a vibrant purple? a beautiful yellow? a tired grey?
Following this thought further, I thought about how many times we all try to be something we’re not because we feel like we’re supposed to be. It may not be anything dramatic, just little, but constant compromises that we make that chip away at our character. If green tries to be yellow, how washed out does it become? If yellow tries to be orange, how might it strain?
This past week at yoga class, we worked our shoulders and talked about our inner strength, the strength that comes from integration. Our instructor made the point that many people think that being strong comes from being hard on the outside, but when we are truly strong on the inside, we are able to be softer, more flexible on the outside.
I think it all comes from being authentic, even as I strive to grow in to perfection in love by the grace of God. If I am fully me, living out who I am called to be, then I shine brightly. I express my gifts fully. I don’t become dim or burned out by trying to be someone I’m not.
It was interesting as I expressed these thoughts with my residency group since some seemed to respond as though this fullness of being was bordering on sinful pride, on being content with where we are, of denying growth. But I don’t think it’s that at all. I forget where I read it in seminary now, but for some people – particularly women who are often socialized to sacrifice self in the service of others – the sin that we struggle with is not pride, but un-being. We collapse in on ourselves, become invisible. That’s not to say that we serve out of the hope of being recognized, but that we should be inner body bright – authentically our true selves as God intends.