Being in our bodies as crane and crow (by Stacy Swain)

I received a text from my son last night that he had just done the crow’s pose. It was his first time ever taking a yoga class and clearly then the first time he had ever contorted his body into something such as the crow pose. “It was pretty rigorous” he texted. I had no idea what a crow’s pose was so I “Googled” it. Turns out the crow’s pose is a kind of squatting hand stand. It is also called the crane’s pose. It requires balance, strength, concentration and grace. It looked rigorous and I could imagine how experiencing it even for a few moments would be clearly enlivening.

As we move into the final days of the church’s program year and anticipate the expanse that we crave summer will bring, I am thinking about the crow pose. What if our Sabbath time, our time of rest and renewal was not just about throwing ourselves down on the coach gasping for breath, but what if it was instead about taking up a new posture of balance, strength, concentration and grace? What if our summer Sabbath time could be about recalibrating our minds and bodies so that we may be dwell together in alert awareness, not pushing through exhausted, but honoring a time of rest, while also challenging ourselves to grow in strength and endurance whatever that may mean for our physical selves.

There is a distortion I believe that has crept into the Christian mindset and that is that somehow the body and the spirit are at odds. If we are people of flesh then we cannot be people of spirit. To be grounded in the physical is somehow to be divorced from the divine. Or another distorted rift on this is that as Christians we are called to sacrifice the body for the higher calling of the spirit.

But clearly that is a distortion! For how can a loathing of flesh live in the same space as the central celebration of our faith — that God so loved the world that God took on flesh in the person of Jesus to dwell in our common lot. Incarnation starts it all!

So this summer as the sun warms your face and as the beach and path, road and mountain call you outward, I wonder if in our own unique ways, honoring the grace and limitations of our own bodies we may be bold enough to discover what our own “crane pose” could be. What could a “crow pose” feel and look like for us? What would living in live balance, strength, concentration and grace look like for you?

By the way, the crow in Native American spirituality was said to be full of wisdom, the only bird that had the power to talk and in Japanese mythology the Crane is seen to symbolize wisdom, balance, communication, independence, knowledge, solitude, and vigilance. Maybe this summer, we all could benefit by practicing the crow/crane pose, in whatever way our dear bodies can.