Protect What is Dear

On Sunday, February 5, 2017, about 5:00 pm, I walk into the yoga studio. They specialize in hot yoga. No thank you! Living in Florida already taxes my tolerance for heat. I don’t come to yoga to perspire, but others do and the place is always toasty and faintly redolent of sweat-soaked mats.

It is good to be back after a month’s hiatus recovering from cataract surgeries. Just a few days before, the ophthalmologist gives me a thumbs-up to resume. After squirting yellow stuff in my left eye and peering into it, close enough that I worry about offending her with lingering garlic breath from the spaghetti the night before, she says, “Everything looks great! You should be fine. But, if you feel a sudden gush of fluid, call me.” “Huh,” I grunt. “Well, that’s kind of alarming.” She says, “Don’t worry. It’s highly unlikely the wound will open up.”

Her words clang around in my head as I unfurl my mat and stretch up into my first downward dog. I worry about undue pressure on my eyeballs, but as the doc predicted, I am okay. Although, I am dismayed by how creaky my joints have gotten in just a few weeks. I start to think evil thoughts about the teacher when she pushes us to hold poses for several, endless minutes during hip-opening lunges. First right side, then left side, torture to my frozen hips. I consider letting go of the pose and flopping face down on the mat, but I draw on some inner reserve and follow instructions without a meltdown.

Discomfort bumps up against a deep, dark calm. This is so familiar. Gratitude spreads through my body as I revel in a few blessed minutes without the mind chatter.

If ever there was a time that calls for flexibility and nimbleness, this be it.

Now that we’re a few weeks (yes, it’s only been a few weeks!) into this new Administration, I feel GREAT unease. Most evenings after dinner heartburn sears my upper chest. Maybe I ought to stop reading the newspaper so close to dinner. I think the mystic Edgar Cayce advised not to mix food with disturbing news, or maybe he said, just eat when you’re eating, but I might be making that up.

I wonder if I will be okay under this regime? Will we? I have severe doubts seeing the pain and cruelty already inflicted on refugees and immigrants (and there is a difference between the two). Bannon, “45,” Conway and Spicer intentionally sow chaos. I wonder about their scapegoating. What is that about? Is their capriciousness simply a big “fuck you” to the whole swath of the population that didn’t vote for the person holding the highest office in our land? That’d be a majority of Americans. Or is there something more sinister afoot?

I read in the paper that the conservative Cato Institute estimates that the likelihood of an individual American being killed in an act of terrorism by a refugee is one in 3.64 billion a year. That’s right, one in 3.64 billion. We know, however, that sometimes we don’t like pesky facts.

This Administration knocks me to my knees – in prayer. Most mornings, I clasp my hands together and close my eyes feeling vaguely ridiculous, but say the words out loud anyway, “Our father who art in heaven hallowed be thy name….and then follow the Lord’s Prayer with the Serenity Prayer, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” The words resonate in my body, and before rising I take a minute or two to feel my heart thumping in my chest, and ask that all sentient beings be free from suffering and at peace.

Prayer and resolve are powerful forces. But, are they enough? Before I haul myself up, using my more flexible, yoga-stretched joints I hear a voice whisper, “Protect what is dear.” That’s pretty cool – protect, a better fit than protest — for me. Energetically, it feels different, a higher vibe than anger and outrage, which has its place, of course, but I need to find something that works for me for the long haul.

So, what is dear to me? The obvious things of course: my dad, our cats, my husband, my bros, my relatives, my friends — but also truth, beauty, the rule of law, allies, common decency and safety for the most vulnerable among us. I rise to standing and squeak out a little trill of excitement. I am ready, bring it on! There is much work ahead.

Reader Invitation: What is dear to you? What are you fierce about protecting?

I will usually respond to your comments within 24 hours.


2 thoughts on “Protect What is Dear”

    1. Hi Anna, I’ve been so inspired and moved by your story. You have a unique perspective on things and I always appreciate what you share. I worked with a guy from Australia in my teaching days and I remember him bringing me to tears saying how much the Aussies loved the Yanks. It was in the context of WWII but still….the Australians have been such good friends and allies to the U.S. – I think more than any other country. We have history. I treasure you, Anna!

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