Open to Grace

Scripture Theme: Hebrews 4:16

Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Terrified.  I woke up nervous, having overslept, butterflies already out and fluttering around my pillow. Today I teach a yoga class to middle school students in a summer literacy program—students living in poverty, who’ve never been exposed to yoga before.  I felt totally and unprepared (and in fact, this was truth). I hadn’t woken up in time to run through the yoga practice. Lord have mercy. The nervousness stayed with me through breakfast and through work that morning, hovering behind my clavicle bone. I envisioned the worst. The students are going to laugh and refuse to do the poses, I thought. They probably won’t even take off shoes and socks to practice on the mat. I envisioned complete rebellion.

Terrified.  I arrived at the school. As I pulled my yoga mat out of the car, I realized I’d left my yoga practice notes back on my desk in my office.  I did not have time to go back. I did not remember the flow of the poses, because I hadn’t practiced them.   Lord have some more mercy.

Terrified. The middle schoolers entered the library. I knew they could sense fear and incompetence on an adult; I just prayed the afternoon heat dulled their sense of smell. With the firmest and most confident voice I could muster, I asked them to take off shoes and socks. They complained about the appearance of their feet, but they did it.  I asked them to choose a mat on the floor, and to lie down on their backs.  They did, and immediately began talking and laughing.  In the best, “take charge, but with kindness” voice, I said, “hug your knees into your chest. Deepen your breath.  Open to grace.” In a little miracle, they did the actions. They quieted, they connected to their breath. They opened to grace. And so, in truth, did I.

In the end, the students didn’t speak about how much they loved the yoga, how much better they felt.  There were no words of affirmation or thanks for me. I had no idea if they liked it or had really hated it and had just been kind to humor me.  The middle schoolers did seem calmer, gentler to each other, though. I felt calmer, too—and more gentle to myself.  Perhaps, this was grace enough, was miracle enough.

I learned later that the students had given the yoga practice high reviews.  They were excited for me to come back. Amazing. This experience taught me that it is so important to do what terrifies me, if that means I’m offering myself to others in love.(even if mixed with fear).  When we do out of love what scares us, it just might be what someone else is hungry to receive, butterflies and all. We take a deep breath, we open to grace, and we experience miracle.


We practiced setting our foundation (part of the body touching the ground), and then opening to grace, before beginning a pose.




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