This past Wednesday night, I had a night that really rejuvenated me as I met up with six people that changed my life two and a half years ago.
When I was a senior in high school, I took a class called Prayer and Meditation. The class met four times a week in the school chapel in a room that over the years came to be called "the upper room." This room earned its name literally and figuratively; it was literally the room located in the rafters of the chapel, but it also became a place of transcendence for anyone that stayed in it. As we would climb the candle lined stairs to the upper room, we would begin to feel our heartbeats slow down and our breaths deepen as we slowly settled onto our yoga mats and felt the weariness of the day melting away. This was a place of trust and understanding, joy and hope, and, above all, a place of prayer and closeness to God.
Class always started with a few minutes of quiet before we would take up our yoga poses at the front of our mats and started the Surya Namaskara, the Sun Salutation. Focusing on heavy breathing, the heat of the room would slowly rise as we carefully contorted our bodies into the positions that were meticulously ingrained in our muscles. We would do this for about twenty minutes until we were just starting to sweat, and we would start our meditation. Most of the times, they were guided meditations, led by our teacher, Mr. Fecas, one of the most amazing men I have ever known, but sometimes we were free to do whatever meditation we wanted under the stipulation that we didn't fall asleep, something which I will personally admit was sometimes hard to avoid.
Some classes were more unique than others. Sometimes, when our class coincided with lunch, we would walk over to the creek bordering the campus and picnic by the water, drinking in the sun, skipping stones, and just enjoying each other's company. Mr. Fecas always had thought-provoking questions to initiate talks amongst us, and it was moments like this that cultivated the relationship that formed among all of us.
Part of the class was both meditating by ourselves twice daily as well as journaling two times a day as well. I've always kept a journal for most of my life, but devoting time twice a day to do so was initially a struggle. I found myself running out of things to say before I realized I was trying too hard. Yes, it was going to be read by my teacher, but it finally dawned on me that Mr. Fecas wasn't judging me. If I had a bad meditation that day, he really didn't care. Rather, he wanted to know if we were undergoing a transformation from the course. He understands better than anyone that building a relationship with God and with other people is a journey, and through years of study, he's learned that sometimes the best way to unravel the joy and love within ourselves is through deep introspection.
At the end of the trimester, the class culminated in a weekend retreat in a cabin in North Carolina. And it was hands down one of the best weekends of my life. It changed me. I laughed. I cried. I smiled. I experienced every human emotion, the best of which was a love so great that I didn't even know could be felt. A love so deep and transcendent that I can feel tears welling in my eyes as I write this.
That was another thing I learned that weekend: that not all tears are tears of sadness. There are tears of love, and tears of joy, and tears of laughter, and tears of gratitude. I share these tears with all of the people that I took the class with, and they have my heart. Here is my heart.