Thank God for Yoga

Sinai Mountains
Photo by M!Chou, c.c.l.

During the summer, the temperature in the Sinai Peninsula and the Negev Desert is HOT. Over 100 degrees hot. This landscape is where the Israelites wandered with Moses for forty years.

This desert has precious little shade. If you’re caught out in the desert in the afternoon, shade can mean your survival.

You don’t need much shade. Just a tiny little bit.

Broom trees grow in the desert. They’re not big—just enough to put your head under to shield it from the sun. I Kings says that Elijah put his head under a broom tree.

Maybe a rock, if it is big enough and tilted right, can be shade.

Wherever you find the shade in the desert, if you can get your head out of the sun in the heat of the day, you can survive.

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A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to reconnect with Ray Vander Laan, my high school Bible teacher. When I was fifteen, I went on a tour of Israel with him and saw a broom tree. I would have used one of those pictures, but the trip was before the dawn of digital photography.

At this recent conference, RVL kept returning to a verse from Isaiah. He held this verse out as a picture for what we, as Christians, should be:

Each one will be like a shelter from the wind
and a refuge from the storm,
like streams of water in the desert,
and the shadow of a great rock in a thirsty land.
Isaiah 32:2

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Often when I talk with other yoga practitioners, I hear stories about how thankful they are for yoga. Yoga saved their lives. Academic college teachers, college students, moms, and psychologists alike have told me stories about how yoga class is a tiny oasis in the middle of the week.

Yoga showed up during a tough time in the middle of their lives, offered rest, peace, and a chance to be.

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As RVL shared Isaiah 32, I thought about how yoga has been shade and water to so many people in their emotional and spiritual deserts.

And I thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool if the church embraced yoga as a spiritual practice? As a way of bringing water and shade to the desert?”

Today I am thankful for yoga. For the opportunity to write about yoga. For the shade that God brings into our lives, even when it comes in unexpected packages.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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