When I throw off what hinders me, I can be more fully who I am

Scripture: Mark 10: 46-52—The Story of Blind Bartimaeus

 I’m not the best at making drastic, dramatic changes in life, just because I hear Jesus calling me to something.  First of all, it’s hard to know that the nudge I feel toward something might actually be Jesus.  Secondly, change is hard.  Maintaining life as I’ve known it remains much more comfortable than upending the routine.  The routine may have problems, but at least I know it.

Bartimaeus, blind beggar though he is, commands my respect. He makes a huge change in his life. The crowd says, “Jesus is calling you.  Take heart, get up.”  Admittedly, he had it easier in hearing Jesus’ call to him than I do.  He got to actually hear and see Jesus.

Even so, Bartimaeus makes a change—which is more than I might have done in the same situation. He takes heart, he stands up, and grasps his cloak—the most important thing he owns. He would have used the folded cloak in his lap, with a bowl-shaped indentation to catch tossed coins as he begged.  The cloak defined his space on the path apart from all the other beggars. By day the cloak protected him from the scorching desert son, by night it became his shelter and his home.

Bartimaeus can’t move to Jesus, encumbered under folds of fabric. To throw off his cloak he will have to cast aside any coins he has received.  To throw off his cloak he will have to cast aside his economic security blanket.  To throw off his cloak he will have to cast aside his only home. To throw off his cloak he will have to cast aside life as he has known it—and though a routine with problems, it is still familiar.

Coins clatter to the ground. Bartimaeus casts off his security blanket, and comes to Jesus.  By throwing off what hindered him, namely the only life he could remember, Bartimaeus opens up to a healing life.

Jesus comes in front of each of us every day, and stops to call us to new life.  Jesus extends in this very moment grace, grace under whatever cloak you may be covered, under whatever is keeping you from the fullness of life in Christ.

Yet to come you have to throw off your cloak.  You can’t leap toward Jesus when you are still encumbered within the folds of the life you know. To throw off your cloak, you may have to cast aside that one thing that is keeping you from really, truly following Jesus. What is it?  Throw it off. Open to a new and healing life.


Standing with feet hip distance apart, place your hands at heart center in prayer position.  Take heart. Inhale, lifting the arms up to the sky, breathing in courage.  Exhale, releasing the arms down, with hands coming back into prayer.  As you exhale, imagine throwing off whatever is cloaking you.  Repeat the flow of your arms and breath several times.

Peak pose: Trikonasana- In triangle, or trikonasana, place your free hand over your heart.  As you inhale, extend the hand to the sky, as though you are casting off a cloak. Exhale, bringing the hand back to heart center. Repeat this action for 3-5 breaths.  Cast off what cloaks you. Take heart. Jesus is calling you.

In times of fear, we connect to Christ as our strength

Scripture Theme: Mark 13: 1-8, 24-27

Going backwards scares me. When I can tell that a yoga teacher is leading us into a class of backbends, my stomach tightens and I think, ‘oh, no!  Can I politely step out like I’m going to the bathroom and then just leave?’ Yet, I’ve made all kinds of arrangements to be in that class, too much to undo because of my own fear.  So I sigh. I acknowledge my own nervousness. Facing fear isn’t fun.  Backbends make me do that.

Mark 13 is all about things that scare us.  The future, namely.  The future in this scripture is full of famine, war, deprivation.  Scary.  The sun gets dark in this text, and there is no moonlight.  Who isn’t afraid of the dark, especially a future that is dark?

So we do backbends. We go into the dark, the unknown, the uncharted territory that we cannot see. It requires great courage, and really good alignment so the spine stays healthy.  The amazing thing that happens when you do backbends is this. . . when you are done, it feels awesome. The movement of the spine moves the synovial fluid, and with it, old stuff gets moved out, and joy can move in.  Even though I get totally scared about a backbend class, I love love the way I feel when it is over.  Something about going into the unseen and coming out again, something about trusting that I’m held even when I think I might just collapse, something about the spine bending and coming back again, just makes for joy.

God knows this.  Even though Mark 13 shows the darkness of a future that we cannot see, it ends with Christ coming in glory and gathering angels.  It’s like the angels are gathering the corners of the sky, which probably requires a backbend, and bringing the whole of creation under Christ.  Christ brings the light into the darkness.  There is no future in which Christ’s light does not shine.  In this we can trust, even when it seems the very sun is dark, even when we feel like we are going backward rather than forward.  Even when are totally scared, doing backbends into the dark, we can trust that on us, Christ will shine.  Shine on. Shine on.


Backbends can be really robust and vigorous, like full wheel, or urdhva dhanurasana. They can also be more subtle, like a gentle backbend while standing in tadasana. I’ll offer a pose in between super vigorous and gentle—Salabhasana .  Lie on your belly, arms extended along your sides, palms down, forehead on the mat.  Invite a rich inhale, lift the head, shoulderblades on the back, press into the palms. Two –three breaths here, then exhale to release. Shine on.