This morning I went to a yoga class. I was exhausted and anxious and needed to let go of some stress. My daughter is getting married this evening and all that anxiety has built to a peak of anticipation. I figured a little stretching and sweating would do my soul some good.
The instructor, Jeff Martens, is a great teacher. He speaks softly during class, reminding us of proper posture and breathing techniques. He also speaks words of wisdom, meant to guide us into greater relaxation and greater submission to the spiritual process of yoga.
Today he reminded us that every posture is a prayer that we pray with our body and our soul. He reminded us that prayers are not requests; prayer is more than asking for things. The prayers we make with our body are affirmations of all that is already ours: health, peace, communion, joy…or conversely, they can be affirmations that we believe we exist in a state of struggle, discontent, and FEAR.
There has been a lot of fear this week.
I told you in my last post that the days after the election were particularly difficult for LGBTQ persons, minorities, and women. Many were consumed with fear that they would lose their civil rights, their safety, their nation and their home. This week wasn’t much different, and I had plenty of people who cried their way through their session, worried about the future and wondering what they should do next.
One of my clients yesterday was particularly upset, and nothing seemed to comfort her. We talked about the allies that are all around her; people who love her, people who are not willing let her be re-victimized or denied safety. I reminded her that I will always be an ally. And then I told her that my greatest hope is that there are many good people in powerful places, people who are not willing to silently stand by as millions are denied their civil rights and human dignity. I said that I believe those people will slowly reveal themselves as Trump’s plan unfolds; I believe that one by one they will stand up and say “Not in my America!” and they will be our allies as we fight against a rising tide of bigotry, sexism, and homophobia.
It won’t be as simple as the split between Democrats and Republicans. I told her that we will probably all be disgusted to discover bigots, misogynists, and homophobes among people we thought were our allies. I’m betting we will also be stunned at the number of staunch Republicans who stand up for civil rights, equality, and justice. Neither side has a monopoly on righteousness; in the long run, I believe that this will be a great blessing that will work to our advantage.
She smiled at me and said it was a lovely idea, but she wasn’t sure it was realistic.
I told her that I am counting on it.
I never thought it would happen so soon!
Today Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton made an announcement in response to President Elect Trump’s decision to begin deporting undocumented immigrants. The mayor stated:
“Phoenix is an incredibly diverse and welcoming city where we endeavor every day to protect our community while treating residents with dignity and respect, no matter who you are, who you love or where you come from.
Our diversity is our greatest strength as a community, and our strongest selling point as an economy. It says much about who we are as a people that Phoenix is considered one of the safest and most welcoming cities in the United States for those seeking refuge from the violence of war-torn countries.
That will not change, regardless of who is president.
Residents and visitors can be assured we will professionally and steadfastly uphold the laws of our city. But that does not mean that Phoenix will fall victim to discourse that is openly antagonistic and hostile to members of our community.
The Phoenix Police Department will never turn into a mass deportation force, even if the new government in Washington, D.C., threatens to revoke federal dollars. This is something worth fighting for, and we will not be bullied into taking backward steps on civil rights.”
I cried when I heard it on the news, and I cried when I read the article online, and I am still crying as I write this right now. There are things worth fighting for: our deepest values and dearest morals, but most important is human lives. These things are worth standing up for, no matter what the cost.
Today the Phoenix mayor (along with mayors in Boston, New York, and Chicago, as well as the police chief of Los Angeles) took a stand against bigotry, hatred, and fear.
This morning I heard that every posture is a prayer, an affirmation of what we have.
Today powerful people in a number of major cities struck a posture of resistance to injustice. They still have some stretching to do before their posture can be firm and true, and we need to join them. We are only beginning to understand just how deeply our privilege (white, straight, male, educated, etc.) has stepped on the necks of our brothers and sisters. As a nation, we need to change our posture to a prayer that affirms freedom for all, justice for all, and welcome to all who would live in peace.
Today I stand in a posture that breathes a prayer of willingness to stand for others, and gratitude for allies in the struggle.
And I am going to stay in posture for as long as I possibly can.
For more information, use the following links:
For more information on yoga or on Jeff Martens http://www.innervisionyoga.com/
Finally, congratulations to Katie and Phil! I could not be happier for the two of you, and wish you a long life of joy together. Phil, Michelle, Dan, Jason, and Arianna…welcome to my family!!