Two and a half years ago, I resigned from my position at our church. This was a significant moment in my life because this job represented years of study, years of longing to not just be stuck at home as a mother of a child with autism, years of dreaming what it would be like to finally work in a church. Life with a child with autism had finally settled down and this was my big chance! I charged out of my home and into my job with energy and excitement. I was determined to offer the best expression of myself. I made connections in the community and created an ecumenically lead event for our community. But, this honeymoon period lasted 6 months. It began to go downhill with a meeting at my home where I was told that people don’t like me. I heard gossip and rumors spread about what my “real intentions” were for the church. I showed up for a meeting at the church with a clear agenda communicated to my team and it was obvious that they had called each other and decided that this meeting meant something else that they did not like. I had to stop the meeting and ask what meeting I was attending because this was certainly not the meeting that I planned. My offering to meet people who were not happy was met with silence. So, I began to try to be somebody else, somebody that they might like. As you can imagine, that was a total failure.
I stayed around at the church long enough for them to seek help from an outside resource because their history showed systematic problems that if not addressed would continue to hurt the next minister. I entered yoga teacher training the following month and later started by Doctorate at Claremont School of Theology. My experience at the church lead me to wonder why the church does not treat outsiders well. I wondered what it would be like to minister in a context where people gather in a community but not a church. I wondered what I would learn about the spiritual life from people who practiced yoga. My doctoral project and dissertation grew out of these questions.
Last Sunday, Yoga Sanctuary met to explore Henri Nouwen’s chapter on Brokenness in his book Life of the Beloved. Nouwen writes, “The way I am broken tells you something unique about me. They way you are broken tells me something unique about you.” In our gathering, we were each given the opportunity to share our brokenness with the group and the ways that we have learned that our brokenness is a part of our blessedness.
You have heard my brokenness. It is the pain of rejection that easily leads down the road of self-rejection. My suffering is unique just like your suffering is unique. Yet, we share in the pain of suffering. What I have realized over the past two years is that my suffering is indeed a part of my blessing because it is my suffering that lead me to you.
One of our participants ended our time together on Sunday quoting Nouwen by saying, “Instinctively we know that the joy of life comes from the ways in which we live together and that the pain of life comes from the many ways we fail to do that well.” Then, she said, “Today, we shared in the joy of living well together.”
Yes, we did. Amen and Namaste