In a world where many of us woke up today to the Washington Post alert saying, Trump says U.S. military is ‘locked and loaded’ in latest warning to North Korea we are confronted with a cold dose of reality and seriousness. I know I am not alone surfing Twitter on my phone in my bed or before my first cup of coffee, trying to get a handle on what is going on.
As I sip my coffee in the safety of my studio, three separate experiences are melding together in something larger.
A few days ago, I had lunch with a new colleague who wanted to get to know me, and I her. After hearing about my job and faith journey she asked, “but where do you have fun?” I know I cannot be the only person who is struggling with that question as I balance my work, my responsibilities at home to my dog, attempt healthy habits, and seek social justice. As someone who has only lived in DC for a year, I have been missing the roots I had in Seattle and have realized, I need to focus on relationships this next year. I need to have more fun (and so far, I’m making it happen.) In the seriousness of my life, it’s important to remember the fun the joy of life despite the current state of the world. As I seek to make meaning, I need to stop and take in the moments of pure joy and delight that come my way.
Then, yesterday, I woke up a little early so I could make the 7:30am yoga class at the studio I attend. As someone who is a) trying to get into the best shape of her life before her Jesus year, b) practices her personal piety through fitness, and c) prioritizes self-care, I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss my yoga day due to a work lunch so morning yoga is not usual.
Anyway, I have been practicing yoga on and off for years now, and have really gotten more serious about it in the past few months. I have slowly started attempting more difficult poses. When I lived in Seattle I had a yoga instructor that took her practice seriously, yet held joy and embracing falling close. Trying new poses involved smiles and sometimes laughter. I still hold that close, but awkwardly feel like I’m the odd person out in the room. My lunges often wobble and my warrior three is less than graceful, but I love it.
The other day, my noon class which attracts many advanced yogis (I call it the trick class) did wall stands. I had recently done my first full bridge pose since high school, so I decided to try it. In my corner of the studio, I concentrated and took it seriously. Miraculously, I made it and my feet stayed over my head. I was conscious that I was smiling and deeply happy. But as I glanced around, everyone was serious. I felt like I violated some unwritten rule like wearing a sleeveless blouse or dress around Paul Ryan.
Back to yesterday. I have been attempting crow and gotten close, but this day, freshly fueled by my pour over coffee blended with coconut oil/cocoa powder , I felt solid in my body to really go for it and I did. I reached the pose, my knees on elbows supported by my budding Michelle Obama arms. I opted to go for round two and firmly fell forward. I smiled and laughed. But something was different, my instructor smiled back and said she loved how I just went for it. I felt joy in a sea of the spiritual seriousness of yoga.
The last experience is from a few weeks ago when I attended my Theology of Mission course as a candidate for the Deaconess/Home Missioner Order in The United Methodist Church (I’ll write more about this later). After a week of missiology, it was time to write a paper and as I sat down refining, or perfecting if you will, my definition, I went back to Anselm’s classical definition. Here’s that section of my paper:
The theologian Anselm defined theology in this simple phrase “I pray, O God, to know thee, to love thee, that I may rejoice in thee,”. Here theology is faith seeking understanding and rejoicing in one’s relationship with the Divine. I often forget about the joy aspect of ‘doing’ theology. Theology is not intended to be followed as a rule book, but is instead something we study, ask questions of, and develop a sense of curiosity for. We do not do it only for academic purposes, but to live into the mutuality of our relationship with God because of the joy that shared grace gives us.
Back to my yoga class. My mind went to the paper I had turned it and how I have been focusing on remember the joy of theology because my seeking of God should and can be delightful. My yoga class should be that way to. After class I spoke with the instructor and talked about how I do theology for a living. I told her about the definition of theology, yet we forget the finding joy in God and how I feel that sometimes yoga is the same way. We are too serious, we need the joy in the practice, in the relationship to our bodies and those around us.
We live in a moment of time, where many of us are seeking understanding. So many areas of my life are muddled and messy, I am continually curious and trying to get a handle on the nation and my church. But where am I finding joy? Where are you finding joy? Are we finding some portions of our busy lives fun?
I delight in a God who wants to be in relationship with me and some of my best relationships are filled with joy. Joy needs to be more integral to our day to day lives, in the seriousness, in our moments of scarcity and abundance, seeking justice in a world stacked against us, and especially in our spiritual practices however we find them.
So here’s to seeking joy and finding understanding… and to finding fun in that.