You have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness. Psalm 30:11
Breath Prayer: Inhale Love Exhale More
Spiritual Focus “The point is not that this world is too sad to love or too glad not to love; the point is that when you do love a thing, its gladness is a reason for loving it, and its sadness a reason for loving it more.”
― G.K. Chesterton
Have you ever had an earworm song stuck in your head? You know the kind that replays in your mind over and over again and to make matters worse it’s a ditty that you don’t even like! (The “I Love You” theme song from the children’s show Barney comes to mind.) The scripture from Joel from Ash Wednesday service is one such earworm: “Rend your heart and not your garments.” Not at first glance memorable, but lurking in the background of our Lenten practice replaying over and over again. According to Webster’s dictionary rend means to split or tear open by violence. Hardly a soothing word. Yet this disturbing scripture from the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) holds a deep wisdom for our Lenten yoga practice.
How many times do we close off our hearts to the suffering around us, so that it doesn’t slow us down or interrupt our busy schedules? How many times do we close off from loved ones to protect our hearts from being hurt, and in turn, shut ourselves off from the possibility of joy? How many times do we purposefully withhold forgiveness in order to maintain some sort of moral superiority of our own making? Sometimes it may seem like we need a crow bar to tear through the wall of protection that we’ve placed around our hearts. Rend indeed.
Cynthia Bourgeault in her book Wisdom Jesus describes the spiritual path of “putting on the mind of Christ” as heart work. Our spirit-filled yoga practice affirms and supports this often-difficult heart work. Set an intention of an open heart while practicing heart-opening postures, such as bridge or supported fish to embody your intention and awaken your heart energy. Notice in your interactions with others when you withhold love and forgiveness. Notice when you are in heart-protecting mode. And try some rending: seek opportunities throughout Lent to “love more”. One unexpected consequence of a Lenten heart-opening practice is that you may find yourself filled with happiness – gladness of heart. What a surprising and wonderful way to walk the path of the cross!
Thank you to Guest Writer Heidi Green