Friday, May 23, 2014

a rowing epiphany for a Friday

Universe Stained Glass at Grace Cathedral

Yesterday at practice Coach saw me erging and said "Stace, open up!"  I explained that my core strength is lacking and that I could not swing back farther without ending up ass-over-teakettle and that would be a very undignified look for a member of the clergy (ok, I just thought that last bit to myself.)

Coach scowled.

We got out on the water and were rowing "feet out" for almost the entire practice. For non-rowers, this means that instead of securing your feet to the boat via the pair of shoes intended for that purpose, the rower simply places her feet on the top of the shoes and thus has to row properly in order to not fly ass-over-kettle into the rower behind her.

This was the rowing epiphany which led me to a spiritual epiphany: to  row properly, to open up, row a full stroke very well, you have to trust that the physics of both "pushing" and "pulling" at the same time are going to help you achieve your goal.

It is completely counter-intuitive...our rational brain tells us that everything should be pulling or pushing in harmony. To row perfect, our bodies in motion understand:  one must push and pull at the same time. We let our bodies practice even when it seems wrong to our rational mind. We let our bodies do their work to our highest potential.

This is not unlike the spiritual epiphany which students of all the great religions and spiritual movements learn. That things that often seem opposite are often the source of our greatest learnings.

To be truly strong one must understand complete weakness.  To be able to walk in the light, one must also understand what it is to walk in the dark. To know the heights of joy, one also must understand the depths of grief. In deeply knowing isolation, one also comes to know the depths and power of love.

Einstein stained glass, Grace Cathedral

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