At my local yoga studio, the teachers share a common practice. At the end of every session, they say, “The love and light in me honors and respects the love and light in each of you. Namaste.” The repetition of the refrain every class, by every teacher, makes the end of our class feel like a liturgy – as though the teacher is sending us out into the world with a blessing. But what I also love about the words is that I can easily substitute Christian language into their words without feeling like I change their meaning that much. I have talked about a priest-yoga instructor once before here. Based on his teachings, I always hear, “The Christ in me honors and respects the Christ in each of you. Peace.”
With that transformed refrain, I find myself each week wondering how I take that mantra out into the world. Am I honoring and respecting the Christ in each and every person I encounter? Am I honoring and respecting the Christ in myself? Those two simple questions are actually really difficult outside of the yoga studio. In the yoga studio, we are people who are fairly similar – people of privilege who have the time and money to tend to their physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. But out in the world, we encounter a much wider diversity of people – people of all types of socio-economic, gender, racial, ethnic, and sexual-orientation backgrounds. Is the Christ in me honoring and respecting the Christ in others when I listen to political rhetoric, when I’m driving around town, or when I make financial decisions?
The last couple of days I have noticed a few more community members pan handling near stop lights. I am not sure why there has been an increase, but it has been noticeable. I usually carry small bags of supplies in my car for homeless individuals, but I recently cleared out my car and they are sitting in my garage. So yesterday, knowing I was empty handed, I sat at the stoplight, intentionally not making eye contact with a particular panhandler. But as we drove by, my youngest daughter waved and shouted, “Hi!”
Clearly my daughter has mastered the art of honoring and respecting the Christ in others. She did not see class, status, or dirt. She saw a person whom she would honor like anyone else. That’s the wonderful thing about being a part of a faith community. When we are struggling with our Christian witness – with truly allowing the Christ in us to honor and respect the Christ in others – other faithful witnesses will model that behavior for us. Who are your faith models? How might you engage more faithfully in honoring and respecting the Christ in others – especially those in whom you struggle to see Christ?