The Communion of Yoga, Church Pew Aerobics & Ubuntu
There is a great healing power in Holy Communion. There is a great healing power in the practice of yoga. There is Ubuntu in the practice of both.
The truth of this understanding began at Wednesday evening’s Holy Eucharist. We were kneeling together in the confession, Father T. said his blessing adding, “The peace of the Lord be always with you.” With one voice we returned, “And also with you.” As I raised myself up from the kneeler to pass the peace, I turned my toes under and stood up as though I was pulling myself into the Downward-Facing Dog yoga pose.
I had to giggle at myself, I was exercising with God.
We pass the peace, essentially entering into community with each other, as another step in preparation for the community celebration of the Eucharist. It is an incredibly powerful time to rejoice in the forgiveness of God and in the forgiveness of each other. This peace isn’t just a wishing of happiness upon each other, it is a reminder that the body of Christ is more than a wafer or a crust of bread, more than a symbolic act of obedience, it is a living, breathing, corporate worship of a forgiving God in community with a broken world. It is Ubuntu.
“Ubuntu – the essence of being human. Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can’t exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can’t be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality – Ubuntu – you are known for your generosity.” -Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Then it was in the middle of Saturday morning’s yoga class, when our practice was at its most intense, I was near to tears, calling out with my mind (both reverently and irreverently) “O God, help me!” Shanna, our yoga instructor, gently reminding us to stay with our breath and to stay here with our yoga community, not to drift away. Pushing us to go beyond where we thought we could go. Easing us into our divine purpose of reaching down and seeking a strength beyond what we could even imagine we could own.
It was here that a small light began to shine. Here I realized that I had reached that same intense level of Ubuntu, of intense connection to community and to God, that I reach for during Holy Communion. A unity in purpose, acceptance and deliverance. An agreement of like-minded wanderers, coming together in relationship, creating a whole Otherness of Being within their gathering.
“You know when Ubuntu is there, and it is obvious when it is absent. It has to do with what it means to be truly human, to know that you are bound up with others in the bundle of life.” -Archbishop Desmond Tutu, God Has A Dream: A Vision of Hope for Our Time
While the Light that is the Christ within, the Christ in community and the Christ that is the world shines over us all day, every day, whether we see it or not; that Light does not shine without the sweat and tears of struggle. Working together to see each other in truth and in light and in spirit is never easy. Sometimes we really have to work to twist our minds around the idea that God loves that weird guy next door, his bratty kid and his gossiping wife. He loves our political, spiritual, ethical, environmental and our physical opposites as much as he does us. God even loves us as much as he loves that little old lady down the street who bakes heavenly cookies, tells us she is praying for us and lends us her strength and wisdom when we need it most and deserve it the least.
“[Ubuntu] is the essence of being human. It speaks of the fact that my humanity is caught up and is inextricably bound up in yours. I am human because I belong. It speaks about wholeness, it speaks about compassion. A person with ubuntu is welcoming, hospitable, warm and generous, willing to share. Such people are open and available to others, willing to be vulnerable, affirming of others, do not feel threatened that others are able and good, for they have a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that they belong in a greater whole.” -Archbishop Desmond Tutu, God Has A Dream: A Vision of Hope for Our Time
And without that understanding, we cannot truly see the Light.
“Who I am really keeps surprising me.” –Nikki Giovanni
DISCLAIMER: Neither Jesus nor the Anglican church is responsible for my opinions nor any lack of theological understanding. Any feeling of peace, love and/or oneness with a broken community standing in the light of a healing and forgiving Lord – thanks be to God.
UPDATE: Click on over to Diane’s blog, Contemplative Photography, for more ubuntu work in understanding. (And be prepared to extend your visit, she’s inspiring!)