Surrender

First lilac of the season.
First lilac of the season.

My thoughts today are not cohesive: more like disparate wordy and visual snapshots. Perhaps they will come together. Perhaps not.

Spring is violent. I always forget the drastic temperature changes the Midwest can experience in one day: wake up with 66 degrees, and by noon it’s 40 degrees and I’m caught wearing sandals. Or vice versa: wake up with 40 degrees and sweat through a long-sleeve shirt in 66 degree 3 o’clock sun.

Every spring, our community notices an increase in people violence too. Last year it was a gunshot on the same corner every Sunday. This year, our community farm has been vandalized several times, and the world is experiencing gunshots, explosions, and earthquakes in every corner.

In another corner, the Pope begins a campaign to wash the feet of every person on the planet.

*

Last night I watched my cat reach her paw out to touch a rabbit. I think it was in friendship, or maybe just curiosity, which is where friendship starts.

After vandals started killing chickens at the community farm, the farm evacuated all the “nonessential personnel”–meaning, anything but the vegetables. Now I have three rabbits living in my backyard, each as big as my cat. Two of them are living in Coconut’s outdoor enclosure, and Coconut is getting a lesson in practicing hospitality. Their presence means she can’t do her favorite thing: be outside. So we went outside together, and she reached out her paw, and the bunny and the cat wrinkled their noses.

Rabbits in Coconut's enclosure.
Rabbits in Coconut’s enclosure.

*

One of my students from China is writing her final paper about the Boston marathon, and about the Chinese student who died. “Is it worth it?” she asks in the draft she showed me yesterday. Is education in the United States worth sending your family’s only child, only source of hopes and dreams overseas? She comes to the conclusion that, yes, it is worth it. Education is like fishing, she says. You never know what you’re going to get. Then she quotes Einstein as she wrestles with her own spring.

*

A few weeks ago, my pastor preached on surrender, and vulnerability in surrender. In front of the congregation, he knelt down in Child’s Pose. He used the analogy of bowing or lying before a king and said that Child’s Pose and lying facedown on the floor in front of someone is one of the most vulnerable positions. You can’t see. You can’t react. You are placing yourself completely in the hands of the king before you.

He asked how often we do this with God: lie down in front of God. Surrender. Trust. Be.

Whenever I lie in savasana (flat on my back), I have always thought of it as a pose of surrender to God in spite of all that is going on around me and in me. With each breath, I try to let go of all that I’m holding onto.

After the sermon, I asked Kylie if he thought savasana¬†instilled the same kind of surrender as lying facedown. He said he thought no. That by lying face-up, you’re still able to react to what’s going on in the room. If you’re limber like a ninja, you can jump to your feet and defend yourself. Lying facedown, you’re stuck.

And I wonder if even in my surrender, I’m still trying to retain control I don’t have. In the midst of spring, I wonder what I truly believe about God’s character. Who God is. What God intends for the world. And then I see rabbits and cats sniffing, and I see lilacs growing out of spring.

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