religion, Yoga


Two days ago, I left work with only one desire:

I needed a slice of Margherita pizza.

In fact, I had been craving pizza all day. As I ate my oatmeal with walnuts and ground flaxseed in the morning, I thought: what I really want is some pizza.

Same thing when I ate my lunch– blackened salmon with spinach and tostones.  It tasted good, but it wasn’t what I was craving.

So I wrapped things up at work and set off to the pizza place two blocks away.  The fact that I did this astounds me. Seriously. After work, I always scurry to my car and race my way back to Queens as fast as I can. Food can wait until I get home, and there usually isn’t anything that I want to eat near my job, anyway.

But I wanted pizza so much that I marched to the pizzeria and ordered 2 slices. Then I sat down and ate them slowly.  The cashier, who had hazel eyes and a hint of an Italian accent, said, “You look like you’re enjoying that.”

I smiled and told him, “You have no idea.”

I ate my last bite of crust reluctantly.  It was delicious. It was everything I wanted. I was satisfied.  It was late. I needed to get home.

With my belly full, I headed back down the hill toward my car. And I stumbled upon this:

photo (12)

Saint Matthew
Luke 3:11

I’m not entirely sure what the person who painted this message on a South Bronx sidewalk intended it to mean.  But I was struck by it. So I snapped the picture and thought about the words the whole way home.

From the Gospel According to Luke:

Chapter 3, Verse 11

In reply he said to them, “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.”

Chapter 11, Verses 9 through 13 (there is no verse 913 in this chapter, so I’m assuming the writer just forgot the dash.)

So I say to you, Ask and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.  For everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.  Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion?  If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!

Prior to searching for these verses, I hadn’t  looked at my Bible in years.  I had to  blow a thin layer of dust from its cover when I finally found it.  But just a week before seeing this message, I had wondered where my Bible was.

I’m not religious at all.  I was raised Catholic, but I really don’t remember the last time I went to church– maybe sometime last fall?  I ordered my Catholic Women’s Devotional Bible  from Amazon about six years ago when I suddenly decided I wanted to practice Catholicism again.  I was going to read  the Bible every day and go to Mass every Sunday and actually join a church and tithe every week.  I don’t know what happened, but my Bible ended up packed away in a box in the basement, not to resurface until two nights ago.  For most of 2010, I attended Mass quite regularly, but once I started working on Sundays, that fell to the wayside.  I tried going to Saturday Mass, but it’s not the same.  There’s no pianist or choir, and the entire congregation consists of the truly devout elderly who attend Mass every day. The energy isn’t the same. So I stopped going.

And then I found yoga.

This isn’t to say that yoga is a religion, because it isn’t. But I do agree with Brooke Boon, founder of Holy Yoga, when she says:

I believe that we were created in the image of God, for the glory of God, for the worship of God. And all of the things that we’re talking about in terms of Western yoga that we practice in gyms and in studios-the pranayama, the meditation, and the asana—all three of those things are addressed in the Bible.  I believe that yoga is a spiritual discipline that draws you closer to God. And so, if that is true, then the intention of my heart trumps the posture of my body.

At the beginning of every class, Rei asks us to set an intention, and to dedicate our practice to someone, or something.  When I first began taking classes at Living Yoga, I found that my practice seemed to flow a little bit more smoothly whenever I dedicated it to God. Thus, using my body to create these beautiful postures became my way of praising Him.  I pray more now than I ever did before I began my yoga practice. And I don’t necessarily feel the need to become the model Catholic– especially since I have my issues with the Church anyway.

That being said, I’d been feeling like I needed to read the Bible; I just hadn’t gotten around to it.  So I believe that my strangely irrepressible craving for pizza  was a sign. I was supposed to go get those Margherita slices so that I could walk down from the Concourse and see this message. I was supposed to take a picture of it and go digging through my many boxes of books  to find my Bible.

I was supposed to read these words. To write this post.

I see the signs.

I know what I am to do.

I have written about how selfish I am.  So I know that I must cultivate generosity.

And I must continue to pray, to trust that God (or the Universe, if you prefer it that way) will supply what I truly need and desire.


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