Breath

Sailboat sailing towards sunset on a calm evening

As I settled on my yoga mat before class, the room echoed the static dissonance in my head. One classmate had just moved her only child into college and was trying to make sense of her own new landscape, another had a friend suffering deeply the loss of two grandchildren and was facing the reality of our lack of control. One was returning to yoga after a long absence and he was shaky but hoping to establish good health and habits in retirement. There was a lot of emotion in the room and it was a mirror to the low-level anxiety with which I awoke this morning. As I looked around the room, I took a deep breath and for the first time in my life, I consciously identified the insidious contagion of dissatisfaction, grief, and heaviness and how it spreads from one person to another and amplifies beyond our ability to contain it. I felt in myself a tiny voice raising up and proclaiming: no.

In my mind’s eye, I put a stake and a flag in the ground, asking the Holy Spirit to come give light to our minds and courage to our hearts. I invited Jesus and His Mother to calm the high emotions and raise up our hope as we moved through the poses on our mats. It was hot and sweaty in the room in more ways than one as I quietly prayed for each one’s burden to be lifted, for clarity to be given, for us to find peace.

The flag I planted was white, a flag of surrender you could say. My dear friend, Fr. Joe had a literal white flag in his office that spoke of the spiritual necessity of acceptance to the process of moving forward and I laughed as I imagined it there in the darkened yoga room. We want to hold on so tightly to the way things are, or to people, or to ideas, plans or habits. The truth that I’m learning relatively late in the game seems contradictory but it’s true: letting go seems to be the key to getting exactly what you need.

At the end of class, in savasana, I imagined the Holy Spirit as a breeze making its way through the room, in the college mom’s fiery mind and the wounded friend’s broken heart. In the retired man’s stiff muscles, the teacher’s generous heart, and in the many hidden places we call out for help in a way that’s so quiet it’s hard for others to hear. There was a picture in my mind of a breeze pushing the sail of a boat first one way and then the other, making corrections and adjustments as the boat moved toward its goal.  The white flag of surrender had become the sail that made movement possible as the boat traveled a meandering line toward one lighthouse. One source of brilliant, warm, all encompassing light that reveals everything we need to know.

We all need course corrections from time to time and if we can let go of the wheel and let the Holy Spirit move us, we may not find a straight path, but we will find ourselves right where we need to be. There’s no place we can wander where He can’t see us and no storm stronger than His will for our lives. His plans are bigger and better and we will get there, friends. Take a breath, wave your flag of surrender, and let Him move you forward today.

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