Today - May 17th - is the anniversary of the day I was assaulted. It is the day that life, as I knew it, ceased and a new way of existing in the world began. SKY was a tiny seed planted in that tumultuous soil that with love, connection, and mutual healing grew into what it is today. Sometimes when I walk through the door I find myself standing very still, relishing the astonishment of it all; that it exists, that it thrives, and that I get to be a part of it.
The thing I love most about SKY is that it is in a constant state of becoming. Like all of the organisms that make the whole of SKY, it and we are constantly growing, evolving, listening, and becoming who and what we are meant to be. As someone who spends a lot of time thinking, writing, and talking about vocation – or being who we are meant to be - I’ve learned to sum it up as the thing we feel called to do to create the more beautiful and just world our hearts know is possible.
Creating a beautiful and just world is no small task. I remember in the days after the assault wondering if I would ever be able to muster the desire to live, let alone do any meaningful work in the world. Vocation and my calling were the furthest things from my mind. Survival was all I had the bandwidth to contemplate. There was a long stretch of time in the months and years that followed that I grappled with feeling guilty about my relentless pursuit of healing. I wondered if I was selfish or self-involved. How much did it really matter to the world-at-large that I was healthy and functioning? Was all of this inner work ever going to manifest anything good in the world?
I can’t tell you exactly when it happened but at some point I began to see that by tending to my own wounds, by sustaining a commitment to the process of healing, I was creating a more just and beautiful world. At first that world felt very small, but slowly over time, it has grown and my bandwidth has gotten wider. And the longer I remain committed to my own healing, the more capacity I have to operate out in the world from this place of love, and to evolve and grow, and become more and more of who I am meant to be.
On May 1st, Paul Engler was here to talk about social movement ecology, addressing the best way to create social change. He spoke directly to something I’ve struggled with, as I’ve felt more and more able to step into my calling. What is the best way to create the more beautiful and just world of our hearts? Do we fight the system? Do we “be the change”? Do we scrap everything and start over? Paul’s answer was that for real social change to happen, we need a healthy ecosystem of efforts. For some of us this will mean a focus on personal transformation and healing, for others it will mean modeling a different way of operating outside of existing institutions, and for some it will mean taking a stand against existing structures in an effort to change or influence them. For most of us, we will move between and among all three, depending on where we are in our own lives. All approaches are necessary and all lead to meaningful social change.
SKY is a place where all three are happening at once all the time. We are engaging in the personally transformative and healing practice of yoga; we are modeling a new way to be a nonprofit, a new way to be a studio, and a new way to be a community organization; and we are, by our very existence, challenging the status quo of existing structures and institutions. Which means that, whatever the reason you come to SKY, you are participating in and co-creating social change. Together, we are creating the more beautiful and just world our hearts know is possible.
That May 17th many years ago, I could not have known what I would be feeling on this May 17th. This is always a difficult day for me, but with each passing year – and held warmly and firmly in the collective arms of this incredible community – I am humbled and honored and beyond grateful to be alive and bearing witness to the healing that happens in this space. It is my hope that as SKY continues growing into what it is meant to be, that all the individuals of this community will get what they need to continue becoming who they are meant to be.
In the meantime, we are busy preparing for Yoga in the Park, our daylong celebration of, and invitation into, the work we do here at SKY. A summer gathering in Wright Park of people of all incomes and abilities, experiencing choice and joy and comfort in their bodies? Talk about a beautiful world!