60 Days On the Mat — Day 19: In Search Of Grace


Days like to today — the world makes no sense.  No sense at all.

I got in the car and headed for the mat.  I opted for a Yin Yoga class — it’s basically restorative yoga and I was in need of restoring — of letting go.  Today the silliness of yesterday was gone.  I was not feeling open and the very last thing on my mind was cooking anything for anyone ever.

The stories coming out of Connecticut shook me.  I tried to ignore it at first.  I’m good at denial when I want to be.  Aren’t we all? Mid-morning I was still pondering what I would cook someday for children I do not have.  Cake batter seemed an easier topic to digest.  I worked for several hours in a forced state of ignorance and just before lunch I decided to allow it all into my psyche.

As I started reading the news, I flashed back to a quote I saw in my Facebook news feed earlier, “On days like today the number of people who believe in hell increases.” 

20 children pronounced dead.

27 innocent human lives —  gone.

I thought about all of the parents who sent their children to school this morning in the sleepy town of Newtown, Connecticut.  I’ve been to Newtown.  Had you stumbled through it, you would barely notice it amid all the quaint Connecticut towns. I’m sure they would prefer to be barely noticed like yesterday.  Yesterday — the day before they went from sleepy to sensational.  Tonight too many families are suffering an unimaginable pain; a pain so dark and horrific it can only to be experienced by parents mourning their children on this 7th night of Hanukkah –11 days before Christmas.

I lie back on my bolster and the thoughts are swarming through my mind.  The goal of yoga is to empty the mind, but sometimes the thoughts must swirl around before they can exit.

It’s days like this when even the most faithful among us question God, and those of us who do not believe are more convinced than ever they are right.  How is it even possible for this to be allowed to happen?  Religious leaders will tell me something about free will and how bad things can happen to good people.  I try to find solace in the public statements of well-meaning and honorable public servants across all political parties quoting the Bible, the Torah and other spiritual rhetoric — telling me how all of these beautiful souls are now with God.  Blah. Blah. Blah.

I want to believe.  I know we will never understand.  I am in search of grace.  Where is God’s grace?  These were not just beautiful souls — these were children.  Children sitting in kindergarten.  No one woke up this morning wanting to go be with God, certainly not anyone carrying a juice box in their backpack.

Tears roll from my eyes for the parents not hugging their children tonight.  I try to breathe.

I go into Thread the Needle and my hip smarts.  I can feel the tension grabbing my pelvis, unable to let go.  My mind wanders to guns.  Your mind should never wander to guns on a yoga mat.  I know the easiest culprit to blame is guns.  I wish I could believe banning guns would end gun violence.  If banning guns will keep days like to today from ever happening, I’m all for it.  If locking every crazy person up from now until the end of time will keep days like today from ever happening, again, I am all for it.  Of course, neither of those things is realistic or even possible.  Criminals are criminals because they do not care about laws; the law abiding members of society will always have to contend with them.  What to do with the mentally ill?  This question is so complicated, I can hardly begin to imagine an answer.  It is way over my pay grade.

I can feel my hips opening.  The instructor gently touches my shoulders and I drop them, realizing I was thinking too much.

I wish we lived in a world where we could all raise our weapons and the hatred compelling people to use those weapons — all types of weapons … Oh, how I wish we could all simultaneously put them down and walk away.  To live in that world, I would give anything.

At my core, I cannot help but believe people who want to do bad things figure out ways to do bad things.  We’re surrounded by so much gratuitous virtual violence in video games, on television, in movies, on YouTube — it’s everywhere.  We beat each other up over electronics in stores and store parking lots.  Banning things that many people use responsibly is not the answer, but what is?  What is the answer? How desensitized do we need to become before too many of us are completely void of empathy for our fellow humans?

Why all the hate?

As I move into a deeper stretching of my IT Band, I think about another picture that came across my news feed.

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’  To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.” — Mister Rogers

My thoughts go to my Aunt Paula who is a nurse at the Danbury Hospital where many of the victims were brought, too many pronounced dead.  I want to focus on the goodness in the world, the helpers out there trying to hold it together as the town of Newtown is thrown into their own personal hell; a nation mourns; mothers and fathers hold their children tighter tonight — and those among us who can, pray (even when we don’t think anyone could possibly be listening) that there is still grace in this world.

As I am lying in our final resting pose, my mind wanders lightly to my personal fears.  The racing is gone, but thoughts are now floating aimlessly.  What if I never have children?  Would it be so bad, given the world we live in?  I would spare myself from ever having to live a nightmare like the parents of Newtown, Connecticut.  But I would also never know the kind of selfless love only parents know.

I breathe in and think, I’ll take my chances.  Knowing a deeper sort of love has to be worth it.  Love is always worth it.  I know this to be true.  If it’s not, then why are we here?

In the twilight of shavasana I think simply — God, help the people in Connecticut find grace again someday. 

As I drive home, George Strait is singing Breath You Take on the radio.  I know it seems like songs are always making it into my posts.  It’s because (and I am fully aware this will make me sound crazy) — I believe one of the ways that which I cannot see or fully understand communicates with me is through songs.  It’s why I don’t listen to iPod playlists in my car.  I want to listen to what is whispering to my heart through the radio.

But life’s not the breath you take — The breathing in and out  — That gets you through the day — Ain’t what it’s all about
You just might miss the point — Trying to win the race — Life’s not the breaths you take — But the moments that take your breath away

And there, coming through the car speakers was a little grace just for me when I so desperately needed it.

I know I am bearing my soul as I go through the ups and downs of my infertility —  and the chance of the egg donor cycle not succeeding is still right out there in front of me.  Now it is in front of a few more people than just my immediate circle.  As today has so shockingly demonstrated, there are no guarantees in life.  There is a solid chance I will have to go through a much more public pain if it is a bust.

Perhaps I should retreat at Day 19 and throw in the mat?

Yet, I know I cannot do that because the unimaginable joy (and grace) of Jonathan and I becoming parents and starting our family so far outweighs the possibility of another failure.  Sharing the joy trumps being consoled in the pain.  And so I will continue to unroll the mat and write, even in the face of a fear and emptiness I refuse to imagine in this moment.

Even on a day like today when the world makes no sense.

For now, I will try to stay present and keep getting on my mat to do it.

As I pull into my driveway, I’m smiling as I think back to one of the last face to face meetings with my reproductive endocrinologist (RE).

“There are women who would kill for your uterus,” he says.

“You must say that to all 43-year old women with old eggs,” I replied.

He assured me he didn’t.  I do trust him.

So, even today, when I lose a little faith in humanity ~ I drive home from yoga clinging to the helpers, the hope, the grace ~ wanting to live a life that takes my breath away often.

And, I also try to have a little faith in my uterus.


  1. Heidi says:

    Wow Terry. This was so beautifully written and I thought I was the only one who ran from the news today until I thought I could bear to watch. I couldn’t . Turned it off again, will try tomorrow.

  2. Sheryl says:

    Terry – this moved me. All of it. The yoga, the thoughts, your plight with infertility (of which I didn’t know about). I want to share that YES – roll out that mat! I do believe that it was because of all the yoga I was doing for 2 years that I became pregnant – and from one “slip” -an ever-so-slight-one at that, so-to-say… it had been 16 years since my first and we never did anything major to prevent it so I know that all the juices flowing from my practice did the trick :) I was scheduled to go to yoga teacher training and that was actually derailed because of my pregnancy. I wish you the most fertile luck through your practice – I am sending truly positive and wonderful energy your way to use on your journey. And lots of love xoxoxo

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