Kim was seated at a table. Even with her head bent over I could tell her black hair was shorter than the Friday before. I walked closer. A portfolio lay open on the table. "Is this for a class?" I asked, wondering if the sketches before me had something to do with her graduate degree in architecture. "Yes," she nodded, still filling in the lines of a drawing with a thin black tipped marker. It looked like a historic cathedral in Europe. Or maybe a castle. There were layers of bricks, a large and intricate wooden door, and multi-paned windows. I wondered how she had created something that looked both old and original, as though it had been there all along and only just sprung from her imagination.
"You're an artist!" I proclaimed.
"No," she insisted, shaking her head.
"Yes! You're an artist."
She invited me to flip through her portfolio. I marveled at one unique sketch after another. "People would pay for these!" She demurred, once again, but I could see she was beginning to accept my words as the gospel truth. "You've made my day," she laughed, finally conceding.
A woman walked into the room holding a yoga mat. "Oh, it's time," said Kim, putting away her sketch pad and closing her portfolio.
Over the course of the next sixty minutes Kim led us in our usual Friday morning yoga class. But something was different. She was different. Her movements were more graceful. The routine less demanding. Gone was the endless sequence of downward facing dog, plank, chaturanga, and upward facing dog that ends with me planting my face into the yoga mat, grateful to be in child's pose. Thank God that's over, I say to myself. Every time.
Instead of my usual face plant, I reclined more deeply into child's pose. Kim invited us to relax even further. I felt my hips release. I focused on my breath. My thoughts slowed down and I entered that sublime space where one is both strong and supple, fully alive and completely at rest. Nearby, someone farted. I smiled, knowing the sound of flatulence was a sign I was not alone in my deep relaxation. We were, all of us, incarnations of grace.
What a great class, I thought, as I rolled up my yoga mat.
It seemed like such a small thing at the time. So small, in fact, it didn't occur to me until hours later, as I walked down 13th street listening to Ian McFeron sing about his old lovers, that what I said had made Kim's day. I suspect it's what happens when we allow ourselves to believe the gospel truth. We hear it as a compliment, an affirmation that catches us off guard. Rather than reject the words, we live and move in them. And our day, like our body, is full of grace.