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An Intimate Sharing, A Love Story: Preachers and Yogis

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Each morning, like this one, I sit to connect inside.  I open and receive the gift of this breath, this silence, these sacred sounds, into this body, into this pain and this pleasure. I am grateful. I remember who I am, at least for a nano second, then into the next forgetting. The way of the yogi… practice and all is coming… here and now… what is… it’s what we’ve got.

My father is dying. Only a 30-minute drive away, he’s still lingering in his increasingly shrinking body. I can only hope thatI will be in the room with him when he passes through this life, this body, into the next. Whatever that is. Attempting to read The Tibetan Book of the Dead again, I pull it from the shelf and dust it off. Started it back in 2004 as a more casual inquiry. I now feel an immediate need to understand death. The impossible. They say, chanting the Name of Ram, the impossible becomes possible. Is it true?  The Great Unknown, its undercurrent ever flowing. I’m carried into the void and back again, into the more familiar land of the Known.

All the places I’ve been and the many things I’ve learned and now know, dissolve into these falling tears as I think of and feel my father slowly leaving my sight, this world.  Monday was his 86th birthday. Happy Birthday Papi…the one and only! Mi papi es el hombre más fuerte del mundo. (My daddy is the strongest man in the world!)

Coveted memories of music and family summer vacations, camping together, the three of us, huddled around him, Mom elegantly lying on the bed across the way, we’re terrified & giggling, inside our old school tent trailer, riveted inside his spontaneous outpouring of another bedtime hair-raising tale of Batman & Robin, battling evil and restoring justice in the world.  Much like him, only he from the proverbial pulpit instead of the bat mobile.

The little girl inside me, crying calling out, wanting him closer, rebelling, resisting with all her might. Eventually, the emerging woman offering him up, the great sacrifice of her father, this great man with a heart on fire, to the world, and now, to heaven.

Feeding and housing those in need, tirelessly preaching and living the gospel into our impoverished neighborhoods, he has lived his purpose, what he came here to do.  He is a beacon of light, of hope, an embodied pillar of Justice and Freedom to so many, bestowing the voice & actions of righteousness, instigating healing, begging a rebalancing of wealth and resources; all efforts targeted to transform suffering of this world into harmony, kindness, and communal well being.

I was reminded last Friday night at our Riverbend Prison service, that a short while back, I was visiting with Dad, and trembling in vulnerability, I tenderly asked if he would listen from the other side when I called his name, and come to be with me when I called. He said yes, he would. So be it. It is done. So it is. Amen.

The minister’s life is not so different from the yogi’s, when the Source is Love. To encourage going within, to relax and breathe fully, to listen, to wait, then respond from a place of peace, good can only ensue. Music is the great unifier. Dad and I and our whole family share this gift.  Chanting the many names of God & Goddess has become my way of worshipping and sharing life & love with others, cultivating soulful community.

In addition to sharing devotional music at the Friday night Weeds service at Riverbend prison, another one of the highlights of my life thus far is our Bhakti Yoga Retreat at Gray Bear. For the last decade, it has become a time & place where church and yoga dance together. Individual and communal healing happens… every time. Gathering together in the lap of the TN forest, our prayers are sung, shared, and offered up, to Love, to the True Liberation of All.

Please be welcome and join us. Now is the time… if not now, then when?


Amy Barnes

All stories by: Amy Barnes

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