i have a yoga practice these days.
i’m learning about living with my shoulders back.
maybe you know what i mean?
because i’ve collapsed onto myself these 38 years of life.
my shoulders can wrap around the front of my body like a shawl. the bones in my back coming forward like a second ribcage to protect this one heart twice.
has that ever happened to you?
jesus was a serial healer.
he really liked healing on the sabbath. that was the day of rest where you were forbidden to work. he seemed to enjoy making a point with his real life.
one time he was teaching in one of the synagogues and he saw a woman.
the gospel of luke describes her this way, “a woman who had been crippled by a spirit for 18 years. she was bent over and couldn’t straighten up at all.”
i know that spirit.
i know it well.
it’s a spirit that tells you to hunch over and become smaller. it lets you know you’ve done something wrong and everyone is looking at you. it makes bones shift and spines curve.
that spirit tells you that you had better look down. look down at the floor and my yoga practice has taught me this – that where the eyes go, the body follows.
jesus saw that woman and called her to come to him.
that he saw and that he spoke to her – it makes me hold my breath a little.
he said this, “woman, you are set free.”
then he put his hands on her and she stood straight up.
i’ve talked through abuse and the choices of my past. i’ve cried with lovely friends who have put their hands on my back and prayed. i’ve done camel pose and opened up the entire front side of my body for the world to see.
the holy spirit wants a body to be free.
the synagogue ruler was upset with jesus for healing on the sabbath. he said this, “there are six days for work. so come and be healed on those days why don’t you! but not the sabbath.”
and the lord answered him, “you hypocrite! don’t you on the sabbath untie your ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? then should not this woman – a daughter of abraham – whom satan has kept bound for 18 long years be set free on the sabbath day from what bound her?”
18 long years.
he says it like he walked bent over right beside her all that time. he says it as if he felt the pain and her shame and stared at the ground with her every step.
i don’t know what has kept you bound.
but i know that when i do a back bend and see the wall behind me, i know that i’m not suppose to spend the rest of my days becoming smaller.
i pull my shoulders down and back again. i’m taking up space.
i’m going to look right in your eyes and not at the ground. i’m going to know that you’re looking at me. and so is he and so is she. but i’m not going to be afraid and i’m not going to be ashamed.
because healing isn’t work to be done, it’s a kindness to be shown.
i’m going to stand right here, just like jesus did all those times he healed on the sabbath.
i’m going to stand here with him and know what he knew then.
i didn’t do anything wrong.