Some things are evergreen. Like not knowing what day it is in this long stretch of pajama days between Christmas and New Year’s.
Like the way peppermint and chocolate mixed together = a particularly seasonal kind of flavor.
Like the feeling of sitting quietly reading with someone at both ends of the sofa.
Like the fact that we’re all aging, always. Until we’re not. (Do you feel it this year? The aging? I really do.)
Like our Advent wreath. Every Sunday evening in December (usually squeezed between Premier League matches), we read a simple interfaith Unitarian Universalist liturgy to light our candles. We talk about hope, peace, joy, and love, and the moments and people and places that show us what those things look like in real life.
And I love it more, quietly, every year.
The other night we walked over to this twinkly old church for a holiday concert. It was spirited and brassy and singable.
Very few people go to church regularly in Switzerland. The political scene here is completely devoid of the bizarro religious nationalism (aka Christofascism) that’s dominant in the US right now. Needless to say, this is so refreshing.
But it also means that a lot of these beautiful old sanctuaries and cathedrals often sit empty. Many of them — like Basel’s stunning Pauluskirche and Elisabethenkirche — have been transformed into shared public spaces featuring cafes, often used for the arts, lectures, and all kinds of collective gathering.
I love this. It feels exactly like what a sacred space should actually be: an inclusive, welcoming, non-dogmatic community hub thrumming with melodies and bustling with people; a warm beacon in the cold twilight.
I’ve always wanted to teach yoga in a sanctuary space like this, similar to the long-running Yoga On The Labyrinth program at San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral. Maybe 2024 is the year? We’ll see.
Wishing you everything still, quiet, and nourishing on this darkest, longest night of the year.
My favorite mantra of the last few years. We can thank Taoism for this one.
Be like water.
Go with the flow.
Don’t get attached to one place, or state.
When you bump into something hard (say, a rock mid-river) stay malleable, take a deep breath, and just flow amiably around it.
Pour your whole self into the space you’re in, whatever the size.
Shapeshift to suit the season (ice, water, steam) — but always stay elementally the same.
Bend, don’t break.
Rinse off the dust.
Nurture the living.
Stay close to things that grow.
I hope my yoga and meditation classes might bring you back home to the truth that your childhood religious experiences may have taken from you: that, at heart,
You are whole.
Your body is good.
You can trust it.
Your spirit is wise.
Your heart is vast and spacious, far beyond any particular tradition.
Our lives are impermanent and fleeting, and we’re all gonna die, so we might as well cut the crap and learn how to really do this thing well while we’re here.
You and I and all of us are caught up in an interconnected interfaith web of being that no toxic patriarchal theology can take away.
Let’s weave it together, breath by breath, pose by pose.