Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Inside and Outside

I've been thinking a lot lately about where to put my energy: focusing inward on my inner spiritual self or focusing outwards on my community. Of course it doesn't need to be one or the other, but I feel like one is bound to become a higher priority for me.

I've spent the past 5 months focusing almost entirely inwardly. I've been struggling with getting my act together so that I could take care of myself again. I love yoga, and it immediately became my sanctuary where I could let go of the anxious and destructive thoughts in my head. I was so inwardly focused that it wasn't until about mid-January that I even had a conversation or gave anything more than a short greeting to anyone I practiced with.

But since then, I've started opening up again. While I'm still a little broken inside (who isn't?) my focus has begun to move outwards again. I have a strong desire to begin working with an organisation that is working to fight homelessness in Edmonton, and I want to live an environmentally responsible lifestyle. I want to surround myself with interesting people and share good conversation and meaningful experiences with them.

During yoga practice a couple of weeks ago, the instructor read a passage from a book as we were coming to the end of svasana. I forget the details, but the main idea was that our bodies are our temples, and we must treat them as such by respecting them and focusing on nourishing them. While I agree that those things are necessary for a health lifestyle, I wouldn't go so far as to say my body is my temple. I prefer to think of my community as a kind of temple, and that I serve my community as a channel for God's love.

Now, I know that's an odd-sounding thing for me to say. I'm still not really sure what I believe. I narrowed it down a little while back, and I think that I believe in the idea of God. I love the idea of a heavenly father, but I don't really believe he's there in the sky or anywhere in particular. I love the ideas of heaven, of resurrection, of redemption, of forgiveness for sins, of eternal love. But I don't really believe in a person who grants those things. I savour the ideas of them, and I often live as though I believe them. But I savour the feeling that I'm comfortable with not believing in them. Or at least with not knowing if they exist. I suppose that makes me agnostic, or something or other.

A colleague of mine told me the most wonderful story the other night. He was chatting with a gospel singer about why he sings. They talked about ministry, about the feeling of singing, about history and tradition. My colleague asked, "how does music help you attain redemption?" The man replied, "We don't sing for redemption--the singing is our redemption!"

We raise our voices together and sing our redemption. How perfectly right and beautiful.

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