Tuesday, October 23, 2012


     We all have with varying degrees the privledge of defining ourselves personally and professionally. A few years ago my Dad was rock climbing the greenbelt with a group some familiar faces and some new friends. My Dad was at the top of the rock when a new friend called up to him "What is it that you do?" Despite the less than optimum timing of the question my Dad still replied, yelling down "I am a landscape architect". There was a pause in which you could almost see my Dads ego quivering and he yelled out again "No, damn it, I am a gardener". This story makes me so proud of my Father's quest for humility and it also makes me wonder how I define myself.  As a yoga teacher my professional parameters are broad. I have chosen to link my spiritual growth with my profession. This serves to discourage complacency in myself and with a fairly strong lazy streak that is a good thing. At the same time setting yourself up as a spiritual teacher can be quite a dangerous place if you start to think you have "arrived" anywhere. I do not teach what I have learned as often as I share with a class what I need to learn. I am not pretending to be the capitian of any ship but I am happy to grab an oar and row along with my students as we navigate the currents of spiritual growth.

     So, when I hear myself struggling to articulate spiritual paths with students it is ok. But when I feel my ego step up onto her soap box I remember spirituality is a practice and it might be time for more personal practice. Thankfully I believe I have identified the primary area where the great majority of us need to practice. The foundations of our spiritual life are laid at home and within our immediate family. We are familiar with the scripture that instructs us to "love your neighbor as you love youreself" I saw this scripture translated from an ancient text and the translation read "love your closest one as you love yourself". Closest one? Um, spouse, parents, siblings, children...these are our closest ones. So why is it that we so often put on shiny spiritual faces for stranges, students, homeless people, everyone but our family? Why is it when we get home we get complacent with the behaviours such as patience and service, the behaviours that feed our spirit?
      I can read scripture and meditate with my classes until I am blue in the face but if I am not practicing all of this at home then my spirit life is a shell. I cannot patiently listen to a students challenges and dismiss my husbands and consider my actions godly. It is easier sometimes to recognize that annoying stranger as a mirror reflecting ourselves than it is to see yourself in your parent. But we must be careful to nurture our spiritual growth first in the home, then with the family and then with others. Spirituality is after all measured relationally and God has given us our nearest and dearest with purpose in mind. Our in laws and families of origin are no random choice but the very people we are meant to grow with. So while it is nice to put on a spiritual face in church or in a yoga studio it is imperative that we authentically practice these practices at home. It does not matter if you consider yourself to be a spiritual seeker and your family could not give a hoot about growth in God. It does not matter if your family is comprised of saints or sinners, winners or whack jobs...these are still your primary spritual partners. So , while I love to remind my students of Gods love for them it is often just calling my Mom or making my hubby a sandwich that is the true spiritual work. So sometimes from the top of that rock I want to yell down "I am a landscape architect" but then I remember I am really just a gardener and perhaps instead of lecturing it is time to til the soil. So, today I will define myself as wife, child, sister, aunt and within those parameters I will set my sails to catch Gods soft breezes.

I know why families were created with all their imperfections. They humanize you. They are made to make you forget yourself occasionally, so that the beautiful balance of life is not destroyed.
-- Anais Nin

No comments:

Post a Comment