Michele Minehart

words & yoga

Category: theological (page 1 of 3)

Brick by brick

Last December, I sent JJ to New Orleans to the Sugar Bowl as his Christmas present. I totally won Wife of the Year with that one, and this year he’ll probably get a new tie, but for those 4 days, I was Wonder Woman. (And my dad, Superman, as he was integral at securing tickets and lodging.)

The morning he was to fly out, I woke up unable to walk straight. I was literally slamming into walls while trying to walk downstairs while dizzy. It was the strangest thing ever. My yoga instinct told me to do a headstand, so I did, and it totally reset my brain. I was able to walk without ramming my shoulder into the doorway. This continued to happen every morning while JJ was gone. When he came home, it stopped.

Right before we left on vacation – in the midst of preparing to move – it happened again. Needless to say, stress tends to manifest itself in my brain. (If you know me well – fancy that!) I get dizzy with the demands of the world in the most literal way. 

I shouldn’t be surprised, then, when I woke up at 4am and the clock seemed to be spinning across the room. This week my husband begins a new job, my children begin at a new school, I brought home a pile of books for my study of yoga, we spent time last night talking about what it will take for us to begin to create stronger friendships in our new place, and today I have to take all 4 kids to a new health provider and then spend some time in the office where I now work [very] part time.

It’s a lot.  I’m sure you can also recite a similar list, yes?

In order to snap my world back upright, I began using the mantra One Thing. I told myself this over and over. I can only do the next right thing. One thing at a time. One. When I try to do more than that at once, I tend to make a mess. So, I must do one thing. The next thing. Not all of the things. And, at 4 am, I was to do none of the things.

If our life has been a building project for the past several months, which it feels like, then I have largely been playing the role of General Contractor. I keep referring to the plans, trying to order the work to happen in correct sequence, making sure everybody has the correct tools and forms. I know the blueprint well – I have a good idea of what a beautiful life might look like.

But do you know what it takes to build a beautiful house of life? It takes the work of building it brick by brick by brick. All the most beautiful plans in the world won’t make the house appear. Layering bricks & mortar will make the house.

My study of scripture has strongly influenced my idea of what the house should look like. I know I want rooms of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control. I want the rooms made bigger by putting others before my own gratification. Thanks to what God has laid out before me, I have an idea of what I’m aiming for in my building project.

Yoga, to me, today, (because I retain the right to change all opinions later) is a tool I’m using to build it, brick by brick. Yoga, at its center, is about noticing. Mindfulness. Not just when flipped upside down in the literal headstand, but also from my bed at 4 am. It’s the tool that helps me pack lunches with love or wrangle children into the air condition-less van for trips to the doctor’s office with peace and kindness. Not that this happens all the time – but the noticing will help it to happen at least more often.

Yoga has been  helping me notice and bring intention to the moments of life that will actually build this house of life. The only way these walls will be infused with the sense of love and goodness that I hope for is to put it there between each brick. (Or, for another theology, if I invite God to put it there between each brick.) In any case, I’m beginning to believe that it shows up not by chance, but by intention – and our part necessitates noticing before the presence of good and holy things will have the power to transform us.

“Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives.”

-Galatians 6:25, MSG

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Changing the world while wearing a baby sling

I’ll confess, I have a secret love affair with the most boring books of the Bible. People make jokes about falling asleep reading Leviticus, but I find it a fascinating revelation of the course of life when it was written. Find it no surprise, then, that my current reading is Deuteronomy. (Also, I got a new First-Century Study Bible for Christmas – “Explore Scripture in its Jewish and Early Christian Context” – which probably only furthers my complete geekery, but gives me joy nonetheless.)

The book of Deuteronomy is like a “final thoughts from Moses” letter – do not fear, don’t forget to turn of the coffee pot, do not fear, remember all the stuff God did for you, do not fear… you get the drift. He starts at the finish line – they’re standing on the edge of the desert, in the foothills of the land promised to them decades ago. And he tells the story about what happened when God said, “go!”

Now, I don’t believe this story, or any Biblical account, gives someone wearing a Christian badge the right or authority to start overthrowing cities and homes. These specific people were promised a specific place. They were following a cloud of God to get there. While I love a good analogy, we must be careful to know the limits of our rhetoric. I’m guessing that God did not specifically call you to go and take the really nice house in a neighboring subdivision. I’m just sayin.

So, back to the edge of the desert. God says, go! Actually, He says things like “do not be afraid, I will go with you and I will fight for you,” and encouraging things that you should cross-stitch into your pillow. However, as we know, such sayings sound good but often do little to cut the fear. So the people of Israel pretty much say, “What the hell, God? You brought us all the way over here to die?” You see, they had sent a scouting team and they came back with a 10/12 report that the people were giants and the Israelites had no hope.

To say God was a little angry would be an understatement. He “solemnly swore” (1:34),  which we all knows only happens just before an epic topple, that no one from the generation would ever see the good land. They were all heading back to the desert until a new group of Israelites – ones who would listen – grew to follow through on God’s instructions.

[box] “And the little ones that you said would be taken captive, your children who do not yet know good from bad – they will enter the land. I will give it to them and they will take possession of it. But as for you, turn around and set out toward the desert along the route to the Red Sea.” (Deut. 1:39-40)[/box]

This stopped me in my tracks. I know the argument because I argue it all the time. But what about the children?! I can’t just go off and DO all this stuff because I have little ones entrusted to me. Someone could hurt them. I have to think about their future. I want to offer them the best, and danger is not the best.

Image via CC by ‘‘ ِ Abdallah Al-Qahtani

Image via CC by ‘‘ ِ Abdallah Al-Qahtani

I’m a firm believer that the Bible doesn’t have random, meaningless writings in it. God answered these people with reference to the children they feared loosing because it was probably one of their grumblings against doing what God said to do. It was a scary command, one they weren’t convinced they could actually succeed, and to top it off, mama had an infant on her back and a toddler on her leg.

God gives a different version of good parenting than my natural inclinations. He says that we are to be faithful to him first. When we’re not faithful to follow God’s instructions, instead of protecting our children we are handing them our battles. In our desire to give them the good and right thing, we must, in faith, step out and do the hard thing. We must answer God’s call.

When this particular generation of Israelite parents declined God’s command, they also forfeited giving their children the opportunity to grow up in a land flowing with milk and honey. Because they were afraid to fight for it. Instead, they took these babes back to the desert to wander around. Their children buried their parents under sand and rock in the middle of nowhere. And these parents left their children without a legacy of faithfulness. Instead of telling their children, “we believed God, so we did it and now we live a blessed life,” they had to rewrite the narrative to say, “we didn’t believe God – please don’t make the same mistake. All eyes are on you, my child, to take these people into the place God promised because I didn’t.

Many of us want to raise children that love God and others. We want good, Christian kids who will turn into faithful, loving adults. That’s fantastic. But what will get us there is probably not charts and prizes for memorization of the Bible (though, that’s a nice thing to have scripture hidden in our hearts) but rather a front-row seat to watching parents believe God and live faithfully. The studies out there are clear: the number one influencer on a young person’s faith isn’t a stellar youth group. It’s parents who value their faith and live like it.

I’m not talking about curbing language because it’s “not Christian” or making a show of reading the Bible. I’m talking about the way in which you respond to God’s call on your life. When you take that thing, that I-have-to-do-this thing and turn it into something for the glory of God, and your children have a front row seat to watching it unfold, that leaves an impression. When mama has to leave for a small group or a meeting or an event and comes home glowing in a way that only means she experienced God – that sticks far more than mama staying home and saying that it’s important to be like Jesus.

If we don’t do the work God has set in front of us, the scary thing to which we are called, that which needs God’s presence or a complete failure is sure, than we will hand off that battle to our children. That’s not keeping them safe. That’s not giving them a good life. That’s handing down the wrong legacy.

God asks us to stop hiding behind our children, using them as a basis for our fears. Instead, we are to step into a faithful life that will give them an example of what it means to follow God.

 

 

**Obvious but I’ll state it anyway: Don’t do stuff that puts your kids in direct line of danger and just “hope for the best”, please. This is about how we use parenting as a shield for our fears. God isn’t into child sacrifice – just read the book. 

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Celebrate Sunday

[box] “O God, who makest us glad with the weekly remembrance of the glorious resurrection of they Son our Lord…”

-The Book of Common Prayer, A Collect for Sundays[/box]

Antonio Brilla's The finding of the empty tomb of Christ

Antonio Brilla’s The finding of the empty tomb of Christ

I’ve heard it said that we’re an “Easter People.” But on any given Sunday, is that true? The last time I have chanted He is Risen! was on Easter and then alone.

We tend to point to a cross when we need the empty grave. 

Why are we so stuck on Friday? We recount the sin of that day, the hurt, the awful. Friday has its rightful day of the week, the day of mourning and grief.

But it’s Sunday! He took that to the grave and left it there.

We choose to gather on Sunday, the day the women sprinted back to the disciples and revealed that Christ had beat all that we feared. Their burial spices were useless because Jesus left an empty tomb. Life, as we know it, will never be the same.

Today, on Sunday, don’t live in Friday. Live Sunday. Resurrection. Every Sunday.

[box] “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

-Jesus, John 16:33[/box]

 

 

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