yoga, soda, sharpies: a litany.

O Lord, open our minds to see ourselves as you see us, or even as others see us and we see others, and from all unwillingness to know our infirmities,

save us and help us, O Lord.

Winter break, and after long-awaited hugs around the neck I found myself attempting to explain how Eucharist, or communion, has changed for me–and has changed me–since I have started attending an Episcopal church in Waco. It is offered each week, and is the focal point of the service. These two factors alone require some explaining, not to mention what they mean. I stumbled over my words–as I often do when it comes to anything that matters–“I don’t know…er, Presence just means something different to me now.”

But this was not any kind of full answer, and there was no way to make sure the “P” was capitalized as it hung in the air between us; I simply wanted to say a reductionist version of all I meant and have it be enough, expecting the one I was talking with to instinctively take the leap with me.

Even then, how do I talk about such a mystery? So, I rushed. The loved one blinked back at me, pupils scanning my face.

If I’m honest about that moment, I will note the defensiveness in my voice, in the arch of my neck. The I knew it that buzzed behind my teeth. In the desperate instant of wanting to be known, I wanted to share, but I also wanted to prove.

Somehow, I also wanted to talk about yoga, about the moment at the end, after I have twisted and bent, when my instructor tells me to draw attention to my breath.

Suddenly, it feels like a surprise, a miracle, even though I have been breathing the whole time.

I wanted to say that the noticing changes everything. The quality, nature, and rhythm. I wanted to say that this oddly makes me think of the moment after Eucharist when my knees hit red vinyl and it seemed like the same kind of noticing.

But I was afraid of speaking Eucharist and yoga in the same sentence, and I’m not sure it would be the best kind of explanation anyway. So I let myself be stuck in between pride and passion, abruptly deserting the conversation–if you can call it that–altogether.

O Lord, give us nerve to overcome the shyness that fetters utterance, and ease for awkwardness of address; turn us from our sensitive consciousness of ourselves, that we may think with freedom of what is in our heart, and of the people with whom we are concerned.

save us and help us, O Lord.

A few months later, I’m standing to check out at the grocery store, my eyes wide and head shaking. She’s jokingly, flippantly made the sign of the cross.

“Not OK,” I retort.

“It doesn’t do anything, Antonia.”

“Listen, MOTIONS MATTER,” and this draws a little attention from the Dallas-suburb shoppers clad in track suits and designer bags, a meticulous nonchalance. She rolls her eyes a bit and presses her lips together, and I wonder if she is thinking, when will this phase be over?

I do not talk about how our bodies can be engaged in prayer, or about the strange infusion of symbol and meaning.

Instead, I huff and hoist cans of soda onto the conveyor belt.

From self-conceit and vanity and boasting, from delight in supposed success and superiority, raise us to the modesty and humility of true sense and taste and reality; and from all the harms and hindrances of offensive manners and self-assertion,

save us and help us, O Lord.

The last week of Lent, I comment on the premature Easter decorations around my residence hall. The person I’m walking with lightly remarks, “Just celebrating early, I guess.”

I whip my head around over my shoulder and nearly spit, “But you can’t just skip Lent. That’s like missing the whole point.”

Somehow, I can’t hear that I’ve missed the whole point.

And I don’t really talk about Lent or the things I’m learning or where my failures have brought me. None of that is in my voice. Instead, I feel like Lynne Truss of Eats, Shoots, and Leaves, walking around with a Sharpie pen, adding apostrophes and quotation marks everywhere. There are times when the mark may be right, and maybe even helpful, but I do not think it is the way of grace to walk around with the cap off.


From all hasty utterances of impatience, from the retort of irritation and the taunt of sarcasm; from all infirmity of temper in provoking or being provoked; from love of unkind gossip, and from all idle words that may do hurt,

save us and help us, O Lord.

I’m on my way home from a beautiful evening prayer service in Dallas on the day of Pentecost. At the stoplight, I try to look up the lyrics to the last hymn. I clumsily thumb “isaac watt hply spirit” into the search bar in the miniature browser when I’m interrupted by a phone call.

We chat, she asks me how church was, and I’m so ready to tell her. She hasn’t seen a church service in a while, and so a part of me gloats instead of glows. I even edge in a liturgical joke to demonstrate how “with” all of this I am. Somehow, I’m surprised and even a bit hurt when she doesn’t want to continue the conversation.

Tossing my phone to the passenger seat, I’m grieved by my idiocy. Tonight really was beautiful, and true, I think, but I certainly didn’t show it.

From all love of display; from the thought of ourselves in our ministrations, in forgetfulness of Thee in our worship, and of our people…hold our minds in spiritual reverence, that if we sing we may sing unto the Lord, and if we preach we may preach as of a gift that God giveth not for our glory, but for the edification of His people; and in all our words and works from all self-glorificaiton,

save us and help us, O Lord.

Amen.

Quotations are selections from a prayer written by George Ridding (1828-1904),

found in Give Us Grace.

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2 thoughts on “yoga, soda, sharpies: a litany.

  1. At the risk of sounding inane, did not take a breath when reading this and upon second reading my eyes were filled with tears. I have “stood” with you in so many places in your piece. Thank you for opening my heart this morning. I love you so very much. Mimi

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