Give Up to Grace - And Die to Old Ways

"Give up to Grace.
The ocean takes care of each wave
until it returns to the shore."

So wrote Rumi, and so I noted, in my last entry...

Today is Good Friday. While many in the Christian tradition will focus exclusively on the passion and death of Jesus, I choose to consider this day from a much broader perspective. It is a time to die to old ways, so that we can rise to new ones...It is a time for deep interior work, cleansing our hearts and our souls, like our Jewish brothers and sisters, who so meticulously clean their homes in preparation for Passover...

This week, which was the beginning of a new yoga session, I told my students, that if they truly say: "Yes! - and open to grace" - they must entertain the possibility they are opening the door to transformation they may have not even begun to envision. If we give up to grace, not only will we be taken care of, as Rumi reminds us, but things may change beyond our wildest dreams or expectations. We may most especially be pulled out of our comfort zone.

"Opening to Grace" is often referred to as "First Principle" in Anusara Yoga - for it is the first of five of Anusara Yoga's Universal Principles of Alignment, and as John Friend, the founder of this system is fond of saying, everything is contained in the "First Principle."

Yesterday, after my morning meditation, and conclusion of my practice, while I released in Savasana, I thought of Jesus, meditating in the Garden of Gethsemani, and how he was abandoned and betrayed by his friends. I have thought a lot of what true friendship means this week. I was able to enter into the experience in that garden, and intuit and feel a real sense of sadness and loneliness.

So what is a true friend? One who holds up the mirror to where we need to do the work...

Everyday in meditation, I ask to receive what I most need that day. And so it happened...

Later in the afternoon, a friend and colleague pointed out a bad habit of mine. She told me she was doing this for me, out of our friendship. After an initial moment of shock, I thanked her for pointing out the behavior in question, for it would make me more aware of this tendency in my relation to others.

"Let me receive what I most need today, and let me give up to grace..."

I sat for my afternoon meditation after this discussion, and after its conclusion, picked up a booklet of Lenten reflections I have been reading. It focused on the events of Holy Thursday and the betrayals of Jesus by both Peter and Judas.

This booklet noted, that neither Peter nor Judas were bad persons...

Excuse me? Judas?

Yes - Judas! He did do a bad thing, but he despaired - and when he expressed remorse and regret, he did it to the wrong persons - who did not care. Peter went back to the apostles and expressed his sorrow there.

Good people do bad things. We all know that.

Then, I read these words:

"A good friend is someone who loves you even if you do something wrong. A good friend is someone who has the nerve to tell you that what you did was wrong. Sin has to be received mercifully and honestly. It can happen with the help of the Lord and the help of good friends."

What is sin? The Greek word for sin is "hamartia." It means - to miss the mark - as in an arrow missing its target, not the interpretations we most commonly ascribe to the word sin.

We all miss the mark. Hopefully, we have friends to help us along the way, and see the error of our ways.

This morning I read these quotations, that shed further light into matters for me:

"..conflict is the primary engine of creativity and innovation.
People don't learn by staring into a mirror.
People learn by encountering difference,"
~ Ronald Heifetz

"Homogeneity makes for healthy milk but anemic friendships.
We need relationships that cross culturally imposed lines
to enlarge our hearts and expand our vistas."
~ Dan Schmidt

And finally, this poem by Antonio Machado:

"I love Jesus who said to us:
heaven and earth will pass away.
When heaven and earth have passed away,
my word will still remain.
What was your word Jesus?
Love? Forgiveness? Affection?
All your words were
one word: Wake up.

Give up to grace. Die to old ways, so you can wake up - and give birth to new ones. That is my message for this day.

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