Last week, a co-worker stopped by my office to chat. Not surprisingly, the conversation turned to current affairs, and I voiced my every day growing anger and grief and disgust and commitment to seek more ways to have positive impact. My co-worker essentially responded that as a yoga teacher, she thought I ought to know that I shouldn’t get so upset, things weren’t so bad.
As should not be surprising to those who know me or practice yoga with me or read what I post on social media that I explained that my yoga calls for lucid and engaged citizenship and not escape from challenges and difficult emotions. My co-worker demurred, still wanting her own comfortable silence.
The fateful weekend passed. When I returned to the office this week, I found a note and a cookie on my desk. The note basically said, wow, Charlottesville, I hope you’re feeling ok, I thought you might like a cookie. Without addressing the substance of the note, (my own conflict aversion coming to the fore or perhaps my sense that in this case there was little point in pursuing the conversation further and my co-worker has been a pleasant colleague ), when emailing about another matter, I said merely thank you for the cookie.
I’d thought that would be the end of it, but my co-worker then stopped by to thank me for saying thanks for the cookie, I no longer restrained myself from passionately though tolerably politely articulating what I really thought, including what a privilege it is to be able to have a bakery cookie whether for hunger or comfort.
I can relate to wanting everything to be ok, and I’m really glad I have plenty of food and a comfortable home, but I also believe that with my privilege comes great responsibility, now even more than ever. I seek to be more aware not less. What about you?
Some of the yoga traditions that include a guru lineage believe that a guru can transmit grace (whatever that might mean) through their presence or touch. Back in the days when I was doing my first yoga teacher training, a fellow student asked me whether I had ever received shaktipat? My answer was yes–when I’d had the opportunity to shake hands with William Brennan. He’s not a guru, my fellow student objected. But he is a being of extraordinary grace, power, and intelligence who has devoted himself to the service of our collective well-being and my being in his presence inspires me to show my best light; isn’t that what’s supposed to happen with shaktipat? I don’t think she was ever fully persuaded by my unorthodox reading, but I had no need to persuade.
I found myself thinking about that discussion today, having gotten to shake John Lewis’s hand when he walked through the crowd to speak at day 2 of the people’s filibuster for health care. In the presence of his inspiration, I am compelled to figure out what more can I be doing.