Monday, February 20, 2012

Panama Called and She Responded

By Judith England

Note to readers: Writer and yoga instructor Judi England recently traveled to Panama with members of her church in Albany, New York; here is the post she wrote before she left earlier this month. .

For the past year or so I’ve been teaching a yoga class at my church here in Albany. This “by donation” class has been a blessing in so many ways. Folks from inside and outside my parish community come together each week in the beautiful space that is St. Vincent de Paul Church. Many had never done yoga before taking the class. All seem to enjoy the chance to stretch their tired bodies, and share the camaraderie of fellow yoga explorers. All the money donated goes to help our sister parish in Panama – St. Anthony of Padua – located in Darien, about 120 miles east of Panama City. Individually, not big bucks for sure, but over time, with growing numbers of students, those dollars can make a big difference. Like lots of places in the world, the community there perceives as luxuries many things we consider necessities.

But, perhaps the most important piece for me is the way in which my yoga-self has been welcomed by my parish. To finally be able to weave together these pieces of my life has blessed me in ways too numerous to count.

Truly, this has been a win-win-win situation.

So, each year a group from Albany pays a visit to St. Anthony’s. This year, I decided I wanted to go along.

Fortunately, the four other intrepid travelers have made the journey before, so I’m just following their lead. Oh yes, there’s the recommended packing list. But what it all seems to boil down to is “If you want it, you’d better bring it!”

Now I’m an organized person. I’ve got my checklists, my routines, my place for everything and everything in it’s place kind of life. I’m finding that this trip will probably stretch me even more than yoga. Sometimes as I’d roll up my sleeve for yet another tropical disease prevention shot, or read about the bugs and the snakes, I’d have to pause and ask myself “..and I want to go here – why?”

What I know about my destination is very little:

It will be a lot warmer than Albany.

I know very few words in Spanish, and most people there don’t speak English.

Electricity and internet are “iffy,” the showers are cold, and there are outhouses (oh yes, did I mention the snakes?)

You don’t bring jeans because they won’t dry if you wash them.

My expectations are that I have very few expectations.

It always seems that we see, or read, or hear just want we need, just when we need it. This past week’s been no exception.

Many of the e-newsletters that have hit my computer this week seem to have been written especially to ease my pre-travel angst. There’s been thoughts on surrender, sharing who you are, and willingness to step outside a personal comfort zone. I take the words in, and remember why I want to go.

So instead of expectations, I’m packing some intentions along with my wash-and-wear pants and bug spray. Whatever comes my way I want to show up and be fully present – right here, right now. I want to take in each experience with an open mind, and open heart – putting aside those pesky thoughts that weigh, compare and judge.

I want to live this part of the journey from the inside out.

“The world is the mountain, and each action, the shout that echoes back.”
— Rumi

Peace and catch you all on the “flip side!”

Writer Judith England's blog on the Albany Times Union, Holistic Health, first carried this post. Trained as an RN, England is a massage therapist and Kripalu-trained yoga Instructor. Stay tuned for Judi's report from Panama.

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