Sacred Space: Opening
My yoga teacher had us fold ourselves into pigeon pose at the end of class. While we were forehead-to-mat, she said something like this:
“Breathe into your hip and create space. The space is an opening: an opening to your most authentic self, and an opening to connect with the human experience.”
Meanwhile, I was thinking, “My hip is really s t r e t c h e d. Yow. How much longer with the yog-ese till I can get up?”
As usual, though, she’s right.
I experienced the opening in each hip as discomfort: tendons and muscles stretching beyond their normal range of motion. I tried to breathe space into the tightness, and relax. To stop fighting.
I tried the same thing last week. It was a hard week. Heartbreaking. Exhausting.
And I was reminded of a prayer: “May God break my heart so completely that the whole world falls in.”
Openness requires stretching beyond normal limits. Maybe not so much breaking as softening. Trusting. Allowing the joy and the suffering and the light and the darkness together, as fully as possible.
This is also what it means to hold space, for ourselves and for others. The sacred space, the space between.
In college, I took a class on chaos theory, which explores the realm between order and disorder. The space between one equilibrium and a new equilibrium.
Where we want to be is on one side or another. Where it’s comfortable and safe and known.
Where we live and grow is in between. In the chaos.
So this is my prayer: Open my heart. Soften me so that I may connect more fully with others in our peace and in our pain.
In Blackwater Woods
Look, the trees
their own bodies
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
the long tapers
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders
of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is
I have ever learned
in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.