I recently had the privilege of visiting Los Angeles and spending some time teaching a yoga workshop at The LAMP Community, A non-profit Art Program located right smack in the middle of Skid Row. I arrived in town a couple days early so I could help out with their annual picnic located in Pasadena. Two planes, a bus and 3 cups of coffee later I arrived with my suitcase in tow bright and early and was immediately put to work cutting watermelon (which I sucked at), spinning cotton candy, and passing cornbread out to over 400 individuals. All of which were currently living in surrounding shelters and some still living on the streets. While I was dishing out the cornbread I couldn’t help but notice the authenticity of each “Thank you” that was said, and the soft, intentional eye-contact made by each individual who came through. I was feeling so blessed and thinking to myself, man Bonnie, you really are a damn good person, I mean this is exactly what Jesus would do if he were here!! We would be standing side-by-side, wearing our hairnets, serving cornbread to homeless people. Oh wait, Jesus WAS homeless. Well that changed things a bit, kind of takes away from the whole “What would Jesus do” mainstream life philosophy when you look at it that way. So I shifted my mindset into imagining each person that came through the line as the Son of God himself. Wow, did that put a whole new spin in my already spinning head! We were all there serving Jesus himself. Now just to be clear, I purposely and intentionally pictured every single person there as Christ. Yep, regardless of race, age, background, sexual orientation, etc…to me, they were Jesus. And for awhile, I was able to shift my attention off myself and my “good-deeds” and really see Jesus. Just when I was getting comfortable basking in my Jesus-filled bubble, a lady came through my line, stopped, looked me dead in the eye and said, “God is good. All the time. Isn’t he?” Pop. There went my Jesus bubble. While I looked at her and smiled and said “Yes, he is” on the inside I was screaming “You can’t be Serious!!! How in the world could you even think that? You live on Skid Row!!! Why would you of all people think that God is good?”
And so began my search (externally) for the goodness of God in downtown Los Angeles. I’ve often shared in my classes that faith does not come easy for me. I am a self-proclaimed “faith-chaser.” This, I believe is my worst demon. I am easily rattled and way too quick to raise my voice and point my finger at God when bad things happen or when life doesn’t go the way I think it should be going. Even going as far as completely turning my back on him, not just cursing his existence…but denying it. So as I walked into my class a couple “Godless” days later, that even a busride to the saltwater couldn’t cure, I found my place at the familiar head, in an unfamiliar room, for my yoga class. There were no mats, no sound system for the uplifting Christian playlist that I’d spent hours on, no eye-pillows, no yummy oils, no Bible. There was just a roomful of teachers with all eyes on me, their student…placed at the familiar head…in an unfamiliar room. And there He was. So as we move into our weeks and our busy lives, let’s stop and pause and observe what lies below our surface. Your life and my life are not etched in stone. We are powerful beyond what we can imagine, yet, in the same frail breath, we are helpless. We live in a state of unknowing, where nothing is promised to us — nothing is certain. Everything could be taken from you in the blink of an eye; your house, your job, a loved one, your hopes, your dreams, even your life itself will be taken from you someday. It is a mystery to me the messy canvas of our lives. I’m slowly learning (as I think we all are) the goodness of God is found beneath the surface. When all external factors are stripped away. I once read “The relationship we have with God is what blesses us. We would do well to work at developing that relationship so that more weight is given to our lives below the surface and less above the surface.” And it is that goodness that he wants for us. So yes, God is good, all the time, so long as we are willing to close our eyes, submerge our whole being under the surface and accept that this is an experience not to be seen, but felt.
See you on the mat.
“I am leaving you with a gift-peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” John 14:27