Today as we walked past that house the old woman was coming out of the front door. It jarred me a little, to my shame, because I had created a fantasy in my mind as if these people were fixed in space like dolls in a dollhouse. She was holding a broom. The task of getting out the door and onto the concrete stairs that lead to their seem insurmountable. She shimmied one way, then opened the door a bit more, shimmied the other, paused, then started again. I hoped with all my heart that she would see us and we could offer her a grand “hello” in a way that only a 13 month old could. But she never looked up. Her hair was twisted in curlers that seemed to have become a permanent part of her hair. A floral print dress hung on her tiny frame and seemed to be held in place by a heavy knit sweater. She wore bright white socks and modern slip on runners, which gave me a sigh of relief presuming that someone must care for her to ensure such footwear. We continued past their house and she still wasn’t out the door, but she seemed determined to tend her porch. I looked back those concrete steps once again and noticed, that from my vantage point, there wasn’t a speck of dirt anywhere to be seen. As a young person for whom sweeping my steps is a nuisance I felt humbled and sad. This frail woman struggles to get outside to tend a porch that doesn’t need tending.
As we carried on I looked up and gave thanks for the bright morning, for the wispy clouds and gentle breeze. I realized all the assumptions I had made about this blue house and its residents. I assumed that this old woman was senile, making her way to sweep a dustless porch because there was nothing else to do, or because she had become an automaton, bound by dementia into compusively repeating tasks just to fill her day. But as I looked up at the blue sky those assumptions fell away and a voice fill my head: “perhaps, my dear, I just want to a few minutes in the sun” was all it said. Humbled, I carried on my walk wishing that all the brightness the sun has to offer would spend the next few minutes setting that woman’s heart on fire.
It doesn’t take much to shine the dusty fixtures of our lives. A yoga practice can be like this woman’s journey to the sun. Can you spend three minutes today in honour of this? Find three minutes of conscious movement or breath, three minutes of gratitude, three minutes of grace even if nothing in your life needs tending right now. Can you find three minutes to remember the Light that belongs to everyone?