magic and wonder

you get to me like old time religion did

in my heart when i was a kid

you’re sweet gospel music to my ears

know how to ease all my fears

from my heart to yours all i can say is

hey baby hey baby hey baby hey

~greg brown


i was reading an article on yoga therapy by sandra anderson who was interviewing gary kraftsow in the may 2002 issue of yoga international i found when i decided to clean out under rich’s coffee table this weekend. (do you love that he has yoga magazines from before i ever practiced yoga? i do.) this part struck me:

in the tradition in which i was trained, the foundation for practice for most adults is to create stability at every level – structural stability, physiological stability (which could be equated to immunity, perhaps), and psycho-emotional stability, which is essential given the volatile nature of the external world. the next goal is to help them to awaken slowly and appropriately to a deeper dimension in life – the spiritual dimension – and then help them find a way of linking to that dimension through their heart in a way that’s not counterfeit. you must find an authentic link, something that inspires them. for example, i might ask somebody, “do you remember what inspired you when you were five or six? did you go to church? do you remember the joy?” the point is to reconnect to something they felt in childhood, and to go back to that. help them return to something deeper inside themselves that gave meaning to their life. (gary kraftsow was speaking here.)

first, it brought to mind the greg brown song, and i have always loved that particular line about his honey  getting to him “like old time religion did in my heart when i was a kid,” a sentiment i can relate to from both the adult and child perspectives. secondly, it was of interest to me because i have always considered the early part of my yoga practice to have been a crucial part of my recovery from depression, and therefore, it was therapy. this is all making a lot of sense to me as i have sort of come around after a decade or so of being unsure what to make of the old time religion of my childhood, to a place of holding onto the baby while being able to part with what, for me, is the bathwater. which all seems seasonally appropriate as well, as we are approaching the holidays, which i notice often  bring up issues for those of us who may have diverged a bit from the religious traditions we were brought up in.

it’s no mistake that quinn’s advent calendar is predominantly made up of woodland animals and plants, hidden behind doors number 1 through 24. and we routinely switch between calling our tree a “solstice tree” and a “christmas tree” each year. finding our own path to being able to embrace this time of year has been important. it’s a great time of year, and i have always been rather elfish, planning projects and decorating and baking and generally loving up on my people. i love to just revel in the feeling of magic, as we helped friends today decorating their mom’s house, and the three of us mamas sang harmony to oh holy night and silent night while we thumb tacked garland around the living room. it brought back a flood of love and giddiness as i recalled last year hanging the same garland around the same living room, and chatting about a certain gentleman i was planning to ask out on a date with these same sister-friends.

he gets to me like old time religion did in my heart when i was a kid.

one of the artifacts of sharing custody of quinn with his dad is that rich and i now have every other weekend to ourselves, and while i will never be able to say i appreciate the time away from quinn, i do love having one on one time with my man. we got to go out both friday and saturday and catch up on some local theater performances, and then sunday took a nice hike around the property line, getting cold and soaking wet along the way. as we approached one very large spruce tree, i could feel a palpable mischief absolutely emanating from him, and knew as soon as he walked around the tree ahead of me that he was planning on seeing how long i’d follow him around in a circle. i doubled back and caught him with a grin on his face, and made him stand still and have his picture taken. then we drank hot cocoa (with a little bit of kahlua to be festive) and played uno while we thawed out. popcorn, a movie, and a quiet night together.

it is that dark part of the year when all photos come out with that blurry, dreamlike quality. and the days seem to take on some of that hazy dreaminess as well.

i taught my yoga class last night, and lately when i teach and it’s a day i have quinn, i have been bringing quinn for the ride and then sending him back home with rich, who attends the class before the one i teach. as quinn and i sat in the entryway listening to the class do their final relaxation (“what’s shanti, mama?” was one of the many whispered questions as he sat and loudly cleared his throat…) he lit up when i explained that shanti means “peace” and he also enjoyed practicing bowing and saying “namaste” with me while we waited for rich. i think quinn will have a very different experience from mine as he grows up, and sometimes i wonder if he will have an equivalent to the “old time religion” feeling to look back upon. but i realize that our lives are very richly spiritual. as with everything else in his unschooling journey, i think quinn will be exposed to quite a range of beliefs and traditions and faiths, and be able to absorb what works for him along the way, and leave behind what doesn’t. i see him having no trouble picking up the baby along the way, while not troubling himself hauling any of the bathwater around. there is divinity in everyone we know, in every story that is told, and being able to recognize that magic all around us is what, i think, this season is all about. that sense of awe and wonder, whether it is found in a candlelit church or in a candlelit household or outside in a moonlit forest, is what awakens in us all this time of year.

when i got home i found them like this, deeply engrossed in a pretend scenario in which they were golden knights. “actually no, mama, we’re not golden knights, but we are knights and all the stuff we wear is made of gold.” all i know is, i have two of the most amazing knights in shining golden armor to love, and feel like i am the luckiest lady in the land.

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