Michele Minehart

words & yoga

Category: resolutions

Creating Space

The beginning of the year always comes chock full of wanting more of something. More weight loss. More gym time. More “living life to the fullest.” More shower heads (which, incidentally, made yesterday 400% more enjoyable. As a matter of fact, I did take two showers). Resolutions and changes exist to bring more of something desirable into our lives. I love this.

However, it has dawned on me – and perhaps many of you, I could just be late to the game here – that more is not always better. In fact, more cannot always exist. Taking stock of the American Life, I’m not sure we have room for more.

Who would've known I could find a picture of an apple tree by a sweet corn field? What serendipity. Photo by Matt Callow via CC.

Who would’ve known I could find a picture of an apple tree by a sweet corn field? What serendipity. Photo by Matt Callow via CC.

Perhaps, instead, we need to refocus our work not on gaining more, but on creating space for the right and the good. We cannot have our current inventory and add more of something. You cannot grow an apple on top of a field of sweet corn. If you want an apple, you must make space to grow an apple tree. 

In yoga, much of the work of the mat is about creating space. Once, we were in a reverse triangle my teacher said the phrase, “as we  create some space in the sidebody” and I nearly fell over. Astounding! This stretch, this leaning in, opened up an area of my body so that blood and oxygen and all the necessary, life-giving elements could flow to those parts and organs and often-ignored places of my body. In ancient thought, blood was the “life source” and as a carrier of oxygen we can understand why. When I stretch and bend, I’m creating space for my body to have new life infused into it.

I got hung up on the Beatitudes this morning, those crazy sayings of Jesus about when you have all the nothings, you have everything. Grief, poverty, weakness… these seem to be game-changers in experiencing the Kingdom of God. He says that those who have lost what is dear to them or is necessary for life, has more of God.

In our loss, in our poverty, in our desire for something else, we create space for God to “move into the neighborhood.” But for God to move into the house, someone else has to move out. Even if God were to decide to build a new house at the end of the block, we lose that empty green field our children used to play in. We must decide what we want closest to us.

As we each endeavor this first full week of the new year, the re-entry into life, let us find the places and things that can move out, to create space for that which we really thirst after. If we want something new to grow in our midst, pick a patch of land and grab a plow. What was formerly there must first become barren earth if we want to plant a seed and watch it grow.

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My un-resolution

It’s been on my radar for several weeks, but after some reading, I’m leaning toward a new resolution, one week into the new year: thinking less about eating healthy. 

Not because we’re obscenely healthy. We’re not. We had a round of the stomach bug over Christmas (fortunately, not all of us and not at full strength. Praise be to Jesus). But I think I will be healthier if healthy eating takes a back burner. I’m not looking to change what and how we eat. I’m changing the way I think about what we eat. 
I’m done with the cringing when we’re presented with a smorgasboard filled with foods we avoid. I’m finished dreading the day-after effects of eating the things that I know wreck havoc on our digestion. I’m throwing away the guilt of a Chick-fil-A date and my grandmother’s noodles.

The problem comes when I think about it too much. When I begin to believe that what I eat not just effects me but controls me. When I believe that I can control my universe by what I put on the table I’ve made a new god, one in the image of a plate.

Because I can’t. Even if I, and 7 generations after me, eats deliciously healthy meals and avoids McDonald’s at all costs, no one writes a cancer-free guarantee. Intellectually, I’ve always known this. In practice, I hate admitting it. 
So here’s what I know: I love where we are. We eat lots of very healthy, sometimes organic, whole food. My kids eat variety. My goal for this year is to begin to eliminate grocery store chicken from the diet and get the real thing – pasture raised, bug-eating birds along with grass fed beef. (We’ll have to eat less of it – it’s too expensive to get huge chunks of meat). 

Through our journey we’ve discovered the extent what we eat effects how we feel, think and act. For instance: a bowl of ice cream sends my son into screaming fits. So, we probably won’t be re-instituting DQ runs any time soon. We won’t return to a grain-filled diet. I’ll keep with the rice and the rice pastas if we need a quick meal. Sandwiches and grocery-store bread won’t be in stock. If  bread appears, it’s the real thing – the stuff that will will go stale in days if not consumed or frozen. 
I’ve told myself over and over again that I want to raise my kids believing that food is inherently good. God created it and said so. I don’t want them to fear it. However, I want them to be mindful eaters, to know where the food comes from. I want them to be grateful for what comes to the table, aware that we find ourselves in a place of privilege in this world when it comes to access to food. I want them to believe it’s only to be expected that the food we enjoy comes to us fairly and that those who help bring it to us are treated in ways that we want to be treated. 
I want to live by – and teach – listening to our bodies, not just in want we crave, but in how we feel in response to our decisions. 
So here’s to a life of good eating. For us, it’s filled with meals that lack processed foods, breads, pastas and dairy products. But that’s not the definition of good eating. Good eating makes us feel good about how it tastes, how it makes us feel and how it got to the table. If we succeed a majority of the time, then we’ll be eating like kings. 
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