Climbing into the pulpit with the expectation that I deliver a message that is moving, entertaining, positive, inspirational, not too long, with moments of humor, connected to our daily lives and connected to the life of Jesus . . . Gleaning this message from a passage that is so familiar it no longer shocks us. . . Somehow speaking on behalf of the Church, on behalf of God . . .
And then doing it again next week.
It is the hardest thing I have ever done.
And it is the most important thing I have ever done. Important for my soul, my salvation. I need to preach.
Preaching forces me to be honest with myself about my faith. What do I believe? Why do I believe? Is there any good news here? Is there any hope for us? Being forced to answer all these questions in public gives me no room to hide, no space for pretend truth. I must find the real truth and speak it. Every week.
I am who I am because I have to preach. And I hate it.
That’s how I feel about yoga.
I hate yoga, at least the yoga that is practiced at Zuda Yoga Studio. It is hot. It is difficult. I know I will sweat. A lot. More in one hour than a human should sweat in a month. The teachers will say things that sound nice, using a lovely tone of voice, like, “if your mind is asking you to quit, listen to your heart. You can do this!” Jessica said that in class today. I hate Jessica.
And . . .
I love yoga. I love Zuda. I love Jessica. Because . . .
Yoga is hard. It engages my entire body, strains every muscle, requires concentration and balance. It gives me an opportunity to strive and then to rest. It forces me to let go of my world of comparison, quiet my inner critic. Celebrate the successes. And pray. Not the active kind of prayer, like, “Lord please help me stay in crow pose.” But rather the submissive kind of prayer that comes in meditation, when the monkey mind finally quiets down. The yoga class is so intense, there is no room for other thoughts. For one hour, I am present in my body. The rest of the world doesn’t exist.
Those are all the lovely things I tell myself when I’m not actually in yoga class. When in class, when “practicing,” a.k.a. sucking, I’m mostly thinking, “I thought you were my friend.”
Yoga is hard.
Which is why I love it.
Everything that has really mattered to me, that has transformed me into the “warrior” Jessica was inviting me to be today, has been hard. I want easy, but easy won’t change anything.
I no longer hate preaching. After 21 years I have found my voice. I don’t need to be entertaining or funny. Just open. Preaching is still an important spiritual discipline, but it doesn't push me to my edge.
I have yoga for that. And Jessica. And my other friends in the Zuda tribe. I’m guessing in another 10 years or so, I won’t hate yoga either. I will have found my balance, or my breath or whatever else it is giving me.
Then I’ll have to find something else to hate.