In every yoga class I teach, there is (at least) one series where we go through “fire.” Legs burn, belly burns, shoulders burn, lungs burn. And on the other side of every one of those series is a release. This release releases feel-good hormones and replicates joy.
But that’s what yoga does. It takes life down to bite size experiences on a 2’x6’ piece of rubber. Experiences that are in an environment that is without real threat–like a practice for real life. This is why yoga is called practice. These moments on your mat, in the fire and feeling the release, teaches you skills for how to cope when you step off of that rubber into the real world and have to face true fire.
In “Wait” I referred to a couple situations in which I was waiting on resolution. While all the rest fell away–dealt with, resolved, redeemed–one of those has ramped up, heated up and is requiring all of my energy. When rereading that entry, the line about my daughter jumps off the page in screaming red letters. What was simple separation anxiety has become more. And because she is my daughter and worth it, I am in the fire. My heart is burning, aching, being tested to its limit and beyond. In the heat, I’m praying that this is refining my impurities and creating a strength I didn’t have before. I am open mouth breathing, wild heart beating, weak will quaking, wondering if I have what it takes to get to the other side. Joy feels so far away. But I know it is the darkest before the dawn and joy comes in the morning.
Yet, its December. Joy is all around. Joy to the world. Angels singing. Merry making. Hap hap happiest time of the year. Thanks goodness for hearts and souls of non duality because I can envision this joy even through our struggle. For 99% of you, when I say envision joy, probably its a child’s face that comes to mind. But what if its your child’s face that joy has disappeared? A darkness has spread through my sweet girl that no one should have to witness or experience and it humbles me to struggle through this fire with her. And so hope is what we cling to. We breathe hope in with expectation.
I’m not usually the emotional one when it comes to movies. My husband feels all the things for the both of us. But there is one scene this time of year that always gets me. A scene that stirs the waters from their depths: Christmas morning in Whoville. The Grinch has attempted to steal Christmas. He desires to steal their joy and cause them to join him in his misery. But when that music starts in and they gather around the Christmas tree, we are all reminded that joy cannot be stolen.
The Christmas story in the Bible has been glamorized and sterilized, but I bet the journey to Bethlehem was a journey through fire. Weary, exhausted, smelly, unsure how much longer they can make it, Mary and Joseph arrived in an overcrowded city who had not prepared room for a woman in labor. Let alone, and little did they know, this child would become their most honored guest. In struggle and filth and loneliness and exhaustion, Joy arrived.
So regardless of how dark the night feels, or how hot the fire, I am using it to prepare and to make room for joy. If I wallow, there’s no room for joy. If I complain, joy has no space. If I’m not in the present moment, the opportunity for joy could be missed. This December, I am making space for joy by burning away the cobwebs and sitting with this discomfort to claim those who are most important. I am dusting off blessings and putting them in a place of acknowledged prominence. Amy Carmichael writes, “Joys are always on their way to us. They are always traveling to us through the darkness of the night. There is never a night where they are not coming.” Joy, we are expecting you.
“It started in low. Then it started to grow.
But the sound wasn’t sad! Why, this sound sounded merry!
It couldn’t be so! But it WAS merry! VERY!….
The Whos down in Whoville, the tall and the small,
Was singing! Without any presents at all!
He HADN’T stopped Christmas from coming.
Somehow or other, it came just the same!”