Scripture [God] brought him outside and said, ‘Look toward heaven and count the stars…’ Genesis 15: 1-6

Spiritual FocusIt’s the moment when you see all the stars…and fall into the universe swallowed whole.”  Michael Coffey

Excerpt from his poem “Count the Stars” found on Michael Coffey’s blog, Ocotillo Pub, at http://www.ocotillopub.org/2013/02/deep-and-terrifying-darkness-in-which.html

Breath Prayer

Inhale: Wonder

Exhale: Peace

I still recall it as a moment of wonder and magic: the first time that I clearly saw the milky way.  I was a child, away from home with my family, away from city lights, and I looked up and saw more stars than I had ever dreamed existed.  The milky way was clearly visible, arcing through the moonless night sky.  I’ll never forget that profound mixture of beauty, awe, and astonishment–that beyond the atmosphere of my everyday sky, were billions and billions of stars.  

In this week’s scripture God comes to Abraham in a vision, and in response to his fear, leads him outside to count the stars.  I like to imagine that Abraham had a moment similar to my childhood experience of beholding the milky way: of awe, and beauty, and wonder.  Many have interpreted this biblical star-gazing passage as a call to live by faith, rather than fear.  And yet, at a first read, this scripture passage may seem more poetic than practical.  Pastor Michael Coffey suggests a pathway deeper into the text.  In his poem, Count the Stars, Coffey likens Abraham’s stargazing to moments of wonder in our lives, describing in the poem’s last stanza,

It’s the eternal now in which you still your twitchy mind

and in the stillness a tremulous quiet and in the quiet

a numinous nothing and in the nothing the one who creates

out of it celestial and terrestrial wonderment like Sirius and you

Stilling twitchy minds is a big part of our yoga practice and perhaps that is what God wanted for Abraham when he was led outdoors to count the stars—to stop, pause, and simply allow space for wonder and awe to replace some of the space taken up with fear.  

Practice: We have many practices on the mat that invite and challenge us to embrace stillness—breath work, savasana, and holding shapes such as five-point star, come to mind. But perhaps our practice would be enriched with a little more wonder. Consider this week, as you practice yoga off the mat, opening to opportunities for experiencing wonder.  Hint: wonder is most often experienced in something greater than self, such as in the surprising strength of a newborn baby’s grasp around your finger, a chorus of voices raised in song, or the gradual opening of a flower.  Or perhaps you simply go outside on a clear, moonless night and count stars.  

Count the Stars by Michael Coffey

It’s the moment when you see all the stars

in one eye’s retina and you count up

from Betelgeuse to googolplex 

and fall into the universe swallowed whole

It’s the time when you hiked the Grand Canyon

on the Hermit Trail and your foot slipped off

the thin concave path high above the unforgiving river and

you grabbed a sapling’s single branch placed just in reach

It’s the dream when you envisioned the smoking fire pot

and the flaming torch promenading through

the slain and split heifer, goat, and ram and see

you are still whole and blessed and counted among the stars

It’s the eternal now in which you still your twitchy mind

and in the stillness a tremulous quiet and in the quiet

a numinous nothing and in the nothing the one who creates

out of it celestial and terrestrial wonderment like Sirius and you

© 2020 Yogadevotion | Made with love.
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