Part I: The T-Shirt
Several years ago I saw a revival of Terrence McNally's play, "Corpus Christi," which features a gay Jesus. It was performed in a small theater in Greenwich Village. I almost missed it--the only reason I went was that a friend of mine knew people in the cast. That revival of "Corpus Christi" remains one of the most powerful theatrical experiences I have ever had. The cast traveled all over with the play, and they made a documentary film about it: "Corpus Christi: Playing With Redemption." I contributed to the film through one of the on-line fundraising sites, and I received a t-shirt as a thank you. The message printed on the shirt was a simple one: "I Am Love."
I couldn't wear it. I felt as though it would be a lie if I did. I didn't feel love on my subway commute or fighting my way through crowds on the street. I didn't feel love for my neighbor when she vacuumed at 3 a.m. In truth, I felt like much of the time I wore a polite or cheerful mask that covered a bottomless well of anger.
I thought I had to earn the right to wear the t-shirt. Perhaps if I learned to meditate, I might be worthy of the shirt one day.
Part II: Buddha Body Yoga
A couple of years ago I heard about a yoga class for large-bodied people, and I started going to it. I've blogged about Buddha Body Yoga before ("Torture Chamber," April 20, 2014). We use props such as chairs, blocks, bolsters, straps and a yoga wall. I enjoy the class because it's not a "typical" yoga class--Michael Hayes, the teacher, makes puns and sings songs. Students make comments like, "This sounds like a track for soft porn" ("Buddha Bar" music).
Almost every week, when everyone is groaning over a particular position or movement, Michael will say: "Hey, Carol called me up today and asked for this." Of course, I hadn't done any such thing!
Michael often talks about working on backbends. As we're leaving, he might say, "Next week--backbends." Fortunately, he doesn't usually follow through with it.
Part III: A Writer Named Sandra Moran
This past July, during the Golden Crown Literary Society conference, my publisher, Bywater Books, hosted a dinner for their authors and some friends. It was a large group, and I ended up seated next to a writer named Sandra Moran. I loved talking with her. Really smart, funny, interested in lots of things, amazing energy. We agreed to keep in touch, and I felt happy about the new friend that I'd made.
After I read two of Sandra's three books--Nudge and Letters Never Sent--my respect for her increased. She is a wonderful writer, and I really enjoyed both books.
Last week Sandra Moran publicly announced that she had a very serious illness. She provided details that I do not think need to be repeated here.
I wanted to do something, but I wasn't sure what. And then I wrote an email to Michael Hayes, titled: "A Real, Honest-to-God Request from Carol." I explained that a friend of mine was seriously ill and I wanted to do a backbend in her honor.
At first I thought I'd wear a t-shirt with the ruby slippers (Kansas connection). But then I remembered the "I Am Love" t-shirt. Did I dare?
Monday evening, from 6:30 to 8:00 (EST), I am dedicating my Buddha Body yoga practice to my friend and fellow writer, Sandra Moran. And for that one hour and a half, I will try to be love. If I can do it for an hour and a half, maybe I can work my way up to longer periods.