Disclaimer: This post contains candid thoughts of a preacher-lady, clergyperson, minister, or however else you choose to describe me. Also, I wrote this after spending a lot of time standing on my head. Though I sometimes use the plural pronoun, "we," the thoughts shared here are my own.
This weekend, Scotta Brady from Butterfly Yoga in Jackson, MS, visited the delta to lead a workshop. As I wrote in my last reflection on "yoga theology," it's no secret that I have an aversion to inversions, and the final session focused on "upside-down poses." With instruction from Scotta and the encouragement of my fellows students, I found my way safely to headstand. While upside down, my shirt crept away from my waistline, a common casualty of inversions. The following conversation then took place.
Upside-Down Me: Is someone taking a picture of this?
Yogi 1: (holding camera) Yes, I got it.
Yogi 2: Wait! Your belly button's showing. Someone fix her shirt.
Yogi 1: She doesn't care if her belly button shows in the photo.
Yogi 2: But she's a preacher.
Yogi 3: Preachers have belly buttons, too.
Let it be known that headstand is even more challenging for the head-stander when she/he is laughing. The inversion is also much more fun when surrounded by that laughter.
One of the reasons I love yoga is that it reminds us that, preacher or non-preacher, we are all human. On some days, our bodies are flexible. Other days, we can barely stretch our arms overhead. We may feel strong in one pose, but the very next one touches on a weak joint or muscle. We may easily balance on the right foot but tumble off of the left. I think that a lot of us, especially ministers, battle a desire to be perfect. But yoga reminds me to laugh at the idea of being "perfect." This conversation at the weekend's workshop still rolls around in my head this morning as I finished reading Feed My Shepherds: Spiritual Healing and Renewal for those in Christian Leadership by Flora Slosson Wuellner. Towards the end of the book, she writes, "That which is needed by Christians is urgently needed by the Christian leader."* Wuellner gently reminds us that we who feed others spiritually must also feed ourselves. Clergy are imperfect, flawed, and hungry.
We are flesh and blood.
We are human.
But sometimes, in our efforts to be all things to all people, to change the world, to grow the church, to live the great commission of Jesus Christ, we forget.
We forget that God doesn't expect us to do all these things on our own in a set time frame.
We often find ourselves on pedestals, and sometimes we don't know how to get down.
Just because we are held to higher standards does not make meeting those standards any easier.
We are aware of the hurt and disappointment caused by churches and spiritual leaders.
This awareness makes us want to try all the harder not to make the same mistakes.
Sometimes our greatest mistake is to forget that we have belly buttons, too.
Thanks be to God for our fellow "yogis" who remind us, no matter what our profession, that we are all dust. We are all frail. We need each other. We need God. And these reassurances are as close to "perfect" as we'll ever want to be.
all good things to each of you,
* Page 176 of Feed My Shepherds, Nashville: Upper Room Books, 1998.