Just yesterday in yoga I was put to thinking on a new thing. After the 45 minutes of standing positions, we moved to the floor to do the ‘real’ yoga. The position is called, Savasana, translated as Dead Body Pose. As we lay down on our backs, the instructor said,
‘Be still – don’t itch the itch, or wipe the sweat. Only by being still can you begin to get in touch with what is happening inside. Where are your muscles tense? What side of your body is most loose? Be still. Only by being still will you ever learn from your body what it needs. You must be still to know.”
I’ve practiced yoga a long time – this wasn’t news, but I heard it differently yesterday. “Being still” has been part of my thought bubbles this past Advent for two reasons. The first is because it is the theme, if you will, for most liturgically inclined churches – churches that embrace the 5th century designed season to prepare the people of God’s church for – not the nativity and Jesus’ birth – but instead for the second coming of Christ. Church goers are admonished to ‘be still’, to walk through the four weeks of December quietly. Sermons preached about final judgment, about being still so a person would know the presence of the Lord in their daily life. Bookshelves are populated with meditations and journals that encourage the Christian to slow down, be still, not anxious and wait in order to know that he is Lord.
Until I understood that the liturgical season of Advent was more about the second coming than about baby Jesus’ birth day, I pushed back against the call to ‘be still.’ It felt like a Zumba class teacher calling out mid way through the class, ‘Stop! Be still!‘ – it just didn’t jive with how I embraced the season. I love the festive, go, go, go excitement that celebrates Jesus’ birth in a manger over 2000 years ago. I play lively Christmas Caroles, decorate my home with lights, trees, creches and Santas. I entertain, send cards, make, buy and wrap gifts. I am hardly ‘still.’
But I am put to thinking differently about the need to be still – and most especially on this day, the day before the world marks and celebrates the birth day of Jesus – God incarnate – emmanuel.
Yesterday, when I was instructed in yoga class to be still, my first thought was of a friend who has quoted the biblical verse that comes from today’s psalm for the past 10 weeks or so as he accompanies his wife through treatment for cancer. They have each – patient and patient’s partner – had to ‘be still’ – to rest in God’s hands trusting the process. Only by being still are they able to walk through this literally one day at a time – some times just one hour at a time.
11 “Be still, then, and know that I am God; *
I will be exalted among the nations;
I will be exalted in the earth.”
12 The Lord of hosts is with us; *
the God of Jacob is our stronghold.
So while lying there in ‘dead body pose’ where I was instructed to be still in order to know where my body was healing or still hurting, to know how even or not my breathing was, I thought of her in a similar pose being still in her hospital bed and her beloved being still to know the Lord’s presence in her body – and in his.
Remarkable to me how this verse – this psalm – greeted me this morning. All these thought bubbles bouncing out there in the universe of this one idea of ‘being still’ – coming together in a glorious sort of soft, comfy cloud of witnesses to speak to me – and to you, encouraging all God’s people to be still, to take time to prepare the inn within for him this night.
 Interesting juxtaposition of death and life woven together in the name of this pose, wherein being still allows the blood and breath to move freely through the body – a juxtaposition I find in Advent wherein the death and resurrection of our Lord is held before us in Advent as reminders that we await his coming again for eternal life.