Sunday, February 28, 2021

Taking up the Cross


Mark 8:31-38

Jesus began to teach his disciples that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.” He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

Taking up our own individual crosses is very unique for each person.   A few years ago I did not fully understand this. I felt a strong Christian call and went through a process of first personal discernment, and then public discernment within my home parish.  The end result was clarity about my call, but it was not to clergy. It was a call to continue my work as a Yoga Therapist.

This call, on first blush, doesn't sound very Christian.  However, when I look at the work I do, have done, it actually is Christian. My call, in very specific terms, is not just to Yoga Therapy, it is to Integrative Health in a rural community.  I have sacrificed thousands of dollars in income I could have made establishing myself in a nearby larger city. I have put the health of my beloved city, Rome, Georgia above my own gain. This is my cross.

I work in an often misunderstood field. Many think I simply lead yoga classes, which I do do, but the truth is I do so much more. I have at least 1800 hours more training than an entry level yoga teacher, including an Accredited Master’s Degree in Yoga Therapy. I have lead classes for individuals that have a common issue. Right now, mainly yoga classes for the aging and those with behavioral health issues, secondarily yoga classes for young adults transitioning into full adult life. I have worked with particular disease groups such as Breast Cancer, Parkinson's Disease, Arthritis, and Alzheimer's Disease. I have worked with those at the end of life. I have worked to help Families in my town understand the Integrative Health options available to them. I have done this as a volunteer, as a paid employee, and as a consultant. I have supported and promoted other forms of Integrative Health serving on a committee at a local hospital to promote this, and starting an Integrative practice with those working in other modalities.  I have taught yoga at my church and still teach at a Catholic Charity.  I started a non-profit that provided yoga by donation to the citizens of my town. I'm not sure how I could find the time to add clergy to this list. And that is okay.

My work is Christian. My self-study, Svadhyaya, through my work, and surrender, Ishvara Pranidhana, of my work to a higher power is  completely based in a Christian philosophy for living, as well as the Yoga 10 Commandments,  the Yamas and Niyamas, of which self-study and surrender are a part. I take up my cross with love, and I lift it high.

"And now, Father, send us out to do the work you have given us to do, to love and serve you as faithful witnesses of Christ our Lord. To him, to you, and to the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen."  -BCP Post Communion Prayer

Episcopal Hymn 643 Lyrics to "Lift High The Cross" the hymn of the Order of the Daughters of the King, of which I am a fourth generation member:

Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim
till all the world adore his sacred name.

1. Come, Christians, follow where the Master trod,
our King victorious, Christ the Son of God.
2. Led on their way by this triumphant sign,
the hosts of God in conquering ranks combine.
3. Each newborn servant of the Crucified
bears on the brow the seal of him who died.
4. O Lord, once lifted on the glorious tree,
your death has brought us life eternally.
5. So shall our song of triumph ever be:
praise to the Crucified for victory!


Photo in public domain by Petr Kratochvil


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