Three years ago, while backpacking high up in the mountains, I turned to my husband and said: “I want to start a church.” It sounded like a crazy thing coming out of my mouth, but the dream had been shouting so loud in my heart that I couldn’t hold it back any longer.
Unfortunately, the dream wasn’t the only thing shouting within me. So was fear. Lots of it. I don’t know what your inner fear voice tells you, but mine was saying things like: “What kind of person says they want to start a church?” and “Who will come? Who will care?” and “You’ll never get away with mixing all those different teachings and traditions together” and of course the real kicker “You’ll have to put yourself out there. Do you really want to expose that much of your heart to the world?”
While fear’s voice within me was loud, thankfully it wasn’t the only voice I heard. I also heard the voices of my students, friends, family—the voices of people saying they shared my spiritual hunger and they too craved a new kind of spiritual community. And so, with the support of many people, we are now over a month into the realization of the Yoga Church (please hear my heart squealing with happiness at this statement!). My original dream had been to start an actual brick and mortar church in Whatcom County where I live (and maybe, if enough people say they want to help me build that, it will happen some day). But the digital world has allowed me to build something completely new. I don’t know exactly when or how the idea for the Yoga Church Sunday Sermons started to crystalize in my mind… Honestly, little shreds just kept showing up. And eventually I found myself outside building a pulpit. And then I found myself talking to two amazing women (honest to god movie makers!) who thought it sounded like fun to come hang out in my woods and help me bring this thing to life. And so here we are.
And your response has been incredible. The voice of fear that told me no one would care was wrong. People from all over the globe are tuning in. And you’ve all showed up with such spirit and encouragement. The wisdom you share in the comments each week continues to blow me away. And I decided to highlight some of that wisdom. I’ve gathered a collection of your voices from all the previous sermons. This week our spiritual sustenance comes from you!
I’ve said it every week, but community means more than one voice. More than one idea. And so I’m asking: Will you help me build this community?
Will you tell me what you want to hear sermons about?
What questions are you wrestling with? What questions do you want me to explore? What are your favorite scriptures? Where do you feel stuck in your spiritual life? What spiritual practices do you want to know more about? You can let me know by sending me an email or sharing your thoughts in the comments below!
Will you invite a friend or a small group of friends to subscribe to the Yoga Church Sunday Sermons?
And then make a plan to connect each week or month and reflect together?
Spiritual friendships and spiritual nurture groups are powerful. I shared how important voicing my dream of the yoga church was. What dream do you need to voice? What’s shouting in your heart? Use the Yoga Church Sunday Sermons and the weekly reflection questions as a starting point for intentional and transformative conversations with the people in your life.
Will you consider attending the Yoga Church Annual Retreat next summer?
The digital world is amazing and allows us to do a lot. But face-to-face, human-to-human, human-to-nature connection is a crucial piece of our spirituality. I hope the Yoga Church Sunday Sermons provide weekly support for you personally and for your small group study. And I also hope we can begin to form a larger community that gathers annually for retreat.
Since I didn’t know how many people would be interested in this whole project, I only reserved a small number of spaces for the 2019 retreat. So if you want to join me on Bainbridge Island next summer, please reserve your spot soon!
Your voices may be bringing the spiritual nurturance this week, but I’m bringing the laughter! I asked Cassidy and Stacy (the amazing women behind the camera) to make a little behind-the-scenes clip for you. My overly serious heart is almost embarrassed to show it to you… but I really wanted to let you in on how much fun we have during filming! Plus, there’s a super cute clip of Indy. 😉
YOGA CHURCH COMMUNITY WISDOM
Please, let these voices inspire you to share yours.
First Summer, thank you for this. It is so nice to have your voice and teachings in my life again. The transformation conversation is on going. My engineer/pilot husband has a technical term called normalization of deviants. It means that you slip or change something until all of a sudden you have a new normal. In aviation this isn’t a good thing but I like to use it as a way to examine how far I have moved from my old normal and into what this new normal looks like. Through the big “flash” moments and the small under the radar events we can view these changes as transformation. We can see the world from a different perspective and witness what is around us and how we react in a different way. What I am noticing lately is the contraction or congestion that come into my life just before another change or deviation away from the old normal ocurs. If I can notice it and sit with it the experience is profound. When I recognize wanting to hold on to the past or an old way, the breath, the practice and the space help me let go and transform.
Thank you friend for the insight and thoughts. Keep them coming! xo
I love the practice of holding the seasons and their changes as sacred. This season has always been my favorite. This year it has special poignancy as I’ve ended a relationship and just moved to a new home. So ironically, as I’m nearing the autumn of my life, I’m facing another new beginning. Another new cycle in deciding what my life is going to be and how to live it with full intention. I’m trying to devote time to thinking about the seeds I want to plant this year.
I think life is a “sacred stage” because of the choices we make as we act upon it create who we are in relationship with ourselves, other people and the universe.
Thank you, Summer! These sermons come timely every Sunday before S and I ‘s weekly bike ride and set the stage to expect something wonderful. I have, and am in the process of making hard decisions because I do not like the life I live. I surprise people often when making moves towards happiness in spite of how wonderful my current life may seem on the outside. Things are messy at first, to the point of wondering if the move is the right one, but new life always, always! spawns at the end. Hard work, this business of living knowing we will die. Hard, hard work.
Thank you Summer! For moving forward with your dreams, Yoga Church. To share with us a weekly message for self reflection, noticing the world around us, and looking for God, around us and within us.
Today’s message on opposites… has me thinking about the push and pull of the world’s various systems, and the push and pull of myself within that framework. Aren’t we all part of this picture, whether we push or pull? and what if we just paused, and observed, noticed, without having to take action on every single opportunity that presents itself? I don’t mean ignoring, or running away from difficult things, but what if taking some moments to just observe, and see the way things are, without judgment on anything? For me, it takes the “pressure” off from having to “act” on every single opportunity. At least for a little bit.
Amazing and spot-on as I struggled with another difficult week of our nation’s politics. It’s relieving to think I can start with noticing how I love those whom I already love, and work up to those I consider to be “enemies,” knowing that by the time I reach that black-belt place, I may not still define “those people” as enemies.
Thank you for this sermon and your ministry! I am grateful to be drawn into this practice of “season keeping” in the form of intention setting. My life is often marked by the crazy ebs and flows of the liturgical calendar – ruled by advent, christmas, lent, eastertide, ordinary time… and even so I feel the detachment you’re talking about. I am attuned to the liturgy of my tradition, but detached from the shifting seasons. If not for this sermon two-parter, I would have missed the fall equinox all together! haha.
I am sensing the desire in myself to reconnect with season keeping, and in so doing my own growth and becoming… I’ll start with the intention setting you suggest.
In delight, your sermon fist of all brought to mind the opening of Ovid’s Metamorphoses- “ Let me sing to you now, about how people turn into other things” or in the Ted Hughes translation “ Now I am ready to tell how bodies are changed/ Into different bodies”. Second, the theory of Stuart Kaufman that our awareness is the measuring device that creates the transformation from the quantum wave state to the particle state ( or classical reality) Please excuse me for the above but your words of change/ transformation are so important in this time solidification and reactionism. And in the wondrous Autumn, no doubt. A question would be could the transformation state be like a state of immersion, with its innate sense of a more fluid reality, in which we can become suspended ( yogic, meditative, mindful or breath-like) and thus more resonant with and allowing of change? Thank you so much for this brave undertaking. One drop, one leaf, one thought. The rain, the tree, the philosophy. From one to all…
So grateful for this thoughtful encouraging wonder-filled Sunday sermon. I love being able to see you as well as later read the message. And hearing the birds sing – such grace. My one boundary around my understanding of God is similar to yours – a deep trust and experience that God is love and therefore cannot be used to oppress or harm. And while I hope to always be a seeker – I also hope to continue to ‘find’ – not definitive answers to all my questions but find that place within where I experience and know God and Gods Love — that as you said then sends us out to serve. To extend (in my language) the love of the Living Christ to others – especially ‘the other’. Grateful for your ministry Summer.
Powerful words, pastor. Thank you. It was exactly what my soul needed to hear in the wake of another difficult week for me in our nation’s politics. This week I decided to be present to the contempt and frustration I’m feeling by instead noticing the work of those who are my allies. I think it is tempting sometimes to be consumed by the contempt… so that life becomes hopeless and weary….at least it is for me. However, in the practice of gratitude for my allies I reminded myself that love still has power in these times and how healing it can be to notice the beauty and love in other people.
I deeply appreciate your insight that “love our enemies” is not the starting point… but the “black belt” haha. It granted me the space and self-compassion to not be a black belt yet. I am grateful for the invitation to practice the observation of inner life, and work from where I’m at without judgement but with love.
Thanks again for this ministry, Summer. Namaste.
Thank you for sharing the spiritual journey with me.