After my first embarrassing but ultimately therapeutic yoga session, I was looking forward to going to class again. On time, discreet, and with minimal vulnerability required. But on the day of my next class I received a phone call that a delivery I had scheduled for the afternoon was actually en route, and I would need to be at the house. I was disappointed. A miscommunication like this was frustrating, but also something I’d come to expect. There would be another class, but then that day it was clear my plan to ride a bicycle to yoga was not going to be viable in the torrential rain. I sent a couple messages to the few people I knew from class to see if I could get a ride but after neither worked out, I was defeated and gave up. Good riddance to this week, I thought. Give me a new week, a fresh start. I had Monday class for redemption.
Richard left for his first business trip that Sunday night and I did some quick GPS work to calculate my morning timeline. At 8:30 I needed to drop off Amirah at preschool. If I showed up a few minutes early I could make the 18 minute drive to the 8:45 yoga class. It could work.
It didn’t work.
Somewhere in the rush hour traffic between Amirah’s preschool and the gym, it settled on me that I was going to miss this yoga class too. Helplessness and despair – the accumulated heap of repeated obstacles preventing me from doing this one thing, and many other things caused my throat to get tight and tears to threaten. Not wanting my driver to see me cry, and still hoping that I might get there in time I squared my shoulders and forbid my emotions from overcoming me. I looked at the time on my phone, then out the window at the red tail lights, and back to my phone. It was raining again. As the minutes clicked by I considered telling my driver to just go home, but I didn’t. We arrived only five minutes late so I jumped from the van and jogged toward the building.
As I climbed the stairs to the studio, the prospect of walking into yoga class late again was too much. Sobs broke free and I stopped in the stairwell. In another place I could cry through a yoga class, with people that were familiar and safe, but not here. Why did it all have to be so hard? Each time I had to try to converse in another languge I felt embarrassed and exposed. Every plan I made was disrupted by an unforseen obstacle. Why couldn’t I just be a normal person and go to a class without it being a major drama?
I sat down on the concrete steps and let the sobs echo in the empty corridor. I’d cried a lot of sad, lonely tears. But this was an angry cry, and I let that silent stairwell hear it. I choked and heaved and clenched and released. Fury and rage at God and my own insecurity and bad luck and bad planning and bad communication made my bawling relentless. If God intervenes in my life, then why was he making it so damn hard for me to get to my yoga class? It went on for twenty minutes before I was fully composed again. I wanted to go home but I had told my friend Suzanne that I could give her a ride. And I felt ashamed of my driver being witness to my failure. The steps felt like the only place I could handle. I messaged Suzanne that I was there waiting for her, and then I continued a less intense, more pathetic whimper for another twenty minutes. Eventually I was composed again, although I’m sure my face exhibited the signs of my meltdown with red, swollen eyes.
After class ended, my German friend Astrid was the first to find me on her way out of the building. She pulled me in for a hug, initiating a new round of tears, and then went back to class to find Suzanne and make sure she had received my message. Suzanne came right away, grabbed my hand and pulled me to her side.
“Oh Jo. What happened.”
“I was late again, I couldn’t bring myself to come in.”
She laughed, despite my sniveling, as we walked out of the gym and over to the van. “Let me play you this message.” She said. She pulled out her phone, opened an app and began to play a voice text from a friend of hers in a different yoga class. Her friend was chastising and rebuking her for being late to yoga, how distracting it was, how Suzanne’s priorities were not in order if she couldn’t be on time, how it disrupted the class, how Suzanne needed to work harder to be EARLY… it went on for three minutes but Suzanne was laughing.
“Suzanne- that message just makes me really glad I didn’t come into class” I said. And then we both laughed.
As we pulled up to her house, Suzanne took my hand again and pulled me out of the car with her. As we walked into the house she dropped my hand and I followed her back to the kitchen, she looked around, started and didn’t finish a few sentences, and then pointed me toward a bar stool at the counter. I could see that she was thinking on the fly, “What can I do with this poor, forlorn sister?” (Suzanne loves to call her friends sister, or “sis”.) I sat down and she began to feed me. She served homemade chicken soup out of an Instant Pot and the aroma encompassed me in home and hearth that reached beyond the thousands of miles back to any place that has felt like home to me. She sliced exotic fruits, purple and green and white and showed me how to eat them. She halved an avocado and served it to me “dirty” with seasonings sprinkled on top. All the while she asked questions, consoled, listened and reassured. It was the kind of sacred ministering that my church tries to teach its members to do.
For better or worse my brand of faith isn’t convinced that God intervenes in the details. In recent years I’ve felt a longing for my divine Mother, a female deity. So I’ll keep the possibilities open, I’ll make space for the chance that God did intervene on my behalf that day. And if She did, it was in the Instant Pot and the sisterhood and the angel on Earth that is my new friend Suzanne.