Where is the door to God?
In the sound of a barking dog,
In the ring of a hammer,
In a drop of rain,
In the face of
There’s a man in Seattle who shows up to work sites where buildings are being torn down. He fascinates me. This man, who I affectionately refer to as “the city Lorax”, has grey hair with dreadlocks down to his knees and a long beard. Every day he wears a dark blue and green puffy ski jacket with baggy khaki pants and ragged tennis shoes. City Lorax talks to himself, occasionally moving in a rapidly rhythmic way, and he mostly goes between pacing the sidewalk and standing still in apparent awe at the demolition before him. City Lorax utilizes what looks like a cell phone to record the activity, which was upsetting to me at first, because it didn’t fit with my story of him. I’ve reconciled this fact, chalking it up to advancement in Lorax technology. What City Lorax does with the video footage is unknown to me, just like most everything about him.
My own story of City Lorax has been that he stands witness to destruction when others barely take time for a second glance. I’ve often wondered how disappointing it would be to know the truth, especially when the mystery seems so lovely. Which makes me think about those times when I fail to allow myself to believe something out of a distrust of that which isn’t “known” by me; if I can’t see, taste, feel, hear, or touch it, can it truly exist?
The City Lorax exists to me because I have witnessed his presence. I know that he most often appears where there is a demolition site and that he stands vigil for hours on end without so much as a drop of water to quench his thirst. What I don’t know is who he may be related to, where he sleeps at night (if he sleeps at all), what language he may speak or understand, and what it is he is truly doing near the dust and noise laden blocks of rubble. But there he is, and it always makes my heart sing just a little to see him there. It feels good to hold just a little curiosity along with what I know.
In my attempts to live life according to Patanjali’s eight limbs of yoga, I recognize those places where I grasp and fear and judge. The more I learn about myself and my connection to the world, the more I want to have a sense of “the Divine”. And yet growing up in a home with no religious affiliation, I have no concept of what it’s like to commit myself to any one belief. My mind moves from having a sense of curiosity to thinking that I need proof. It’s another space where it’s most likely better for me to hold a sense of wonder and to leave space for the unknown.
Yoga philosophy tells me that the Divine is in everything and that even I am a manifestation of the Divine (and so is the City Lorax); if this is so, then I suppose everything is my proof that the Divine exists. Which isn’t good enough for my senses, but it’s mostly good enough for my spirit. When I see blossoms in early spring, witness newborn babies, hear children laughing, and dig my hands in fresh soil, I feel connected to something larger than me. When I witness something or someone who doesn’t fit the “norm”, I am reminded of the possibility that the Divine exist. And when my larger than life imagination creates a story for someone that others see as mentally ill and homeless, it makes me happy.
To me, yoga is a spiritual practice that I can relate to without committing to a religion and it is a practice that I can feel comfortable being playful with. I can be funny and quirky and negligent without being judged. I can just show up in my life, attempt to observe some specific ways of being in the world (enter here the Yamas and Niyamas), and I can use my breath and my body as ways of honoring my practice. Or, if/when all else fails, I can just be where I’m at. A human experience working toward a divine interaction.