Out beyond ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there. Rumi
Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. Rumi
Love exists within each of us from the moment we are born and waits to be discovered from then on. Elif Shafak
“Appreciate these feet of yours,” I say in yoga each session as we stand, soles firmly pressed into the ground in Tadasana/Mountain Pose. “Spread your toes wide, feel your connection with the earth. Your feet will stabilize you, bring you a sense of empowerment as you plug into the earth’s powerful energy.” I say this and I believe it. I feel it, that surge of energy coursing up through my body as I stand in Tadasana, and I also feel the confidence that the pose gives to me, a reminder that my body is a strong enough vessel to contain this rush, at least when my feet are plugged in, at least when the surge of energy doesn’t feel a little too “rushy”. But what about at a wedding? What about at your own son’s wedding? Can you still feel stable? Can you still keep these feet of yours plugged into the earth? Is your body really a strong enough container to hold the volcano of energy that a wedding brings up?
I love my feet. They are big and they are strong and they are tough. I can scamper barefoot across rocks and pine-needle paths. I can expose the soles of my feet to cold ocean water and gritty sand. I believe my feet are happy feet. But until last Thursday afternoon in Knoxville, Tennessee, until that hour of leaning back into the chair and chatting with the other mother-in-law who also was leaning back into a chair, until the scrubbing and the scraping and the filing and the nail-polishing, until that very first pedicure that we, the mothers of bride and groom, had ever experienced, I wouldn’t have said that these feet of mine are pretty feet. And maybe it is a good thing to step into a wedding weekend on feet that are pretty and adorned with toenail polish in a brilliant coral-color, maybe a pedicure is just the thing to provide that added oomph of confidence, that reminder to stay firmly planted as the wedding-whoosh begins.
So that’s what I did; I stepped forward on gleaming-clean and polished feet, flip-flopped my way into a meeting with the rest of the bride’s family on Thursday evening, at a picnic at a park along the bank of the slow-flowing Tennessee River that runs near the house that soon-to-be-bride and soon-to-be-groom have shared in Knoxville for the past two years while working on post-docs. The air was thick and sultry and fragrant and it was easy to relax into these feet, to kick off the flip flops, to press sparkly toes into the grassy-ground beneath them. And it was easy to connect with these warm and friendly people who had traveled from the west coast to be here for this buoyant celebration.
And my feet, they did a pretty good job remaining earthbound later that evening while driving back to the airport to greet my guy, the father-of-the-groom, and the next day, at noon, during another airport run, they still stayed put in those Teva sandals, even as that almost-two-year-old-blue-eyed-blond-grandson-of-mine hopped out of his mother’s arms and skitter-raced down the airport corridor toward me. “Gwama!!! Gwama!!!” he cried and I pressed my feet down a little harder and felt the momentum building. And that’s what happens during a wedding weekend. The momentum builds. The river runs faster. More people arrive. A grandma-of-the-groom, an uncle-of-the-bride. Brothers and sister-in-laws. Nieces and nephews and cousins. Friends of the bride, friends of the groom, friends of us all. By car and by plane. From west coast and east coast and places in-between. It’s a wild ride, a river with rapids, a whoosh of excitement. And my feet? My beautifully-pedicured-gleaming feet? As we gathered for a welcome dinner on Friday evening, it didn’t even cross my mind to notice the coral-colored polish or to check in with these polished-up feet of mine.
In our yoga sessions, as we move from Mountain Pose into Virabradasana I — the pose of our inner warrior for integrity –as we step back with one leg, there often is a moment of losing our footing. “It is okay to feel wobbly,” I say. “Sometimes we lose our balance,” I add. And then we find it again; we press our feet into the ground, and there they are; our own two feet. And were there wobbly moments during the wedding weekend? I had a few. There was that sultry air, intoxicatingly warm and humid and filled with full-bloomed lushness — humid wet lushness that turned to rain on the morning of the wedding and transformed my relatively tame hair into something wild and ferociously unmanageable. And that’s the coif that I brought to the wedding ceremony. And there was the moment a few hours earlier, when under my tutelage, while I was scurrying to tame this wild mop on my head with a blowdryer and some spray, that adorable blue-eyed-blond-almost-two-year-old-grandson-of-mine put a party favor I had given to him to play with into the motel room microwave and somehow started a fire. Sure there were wobbly moments. We wobble and then we find them again, our own two feet.
But there’s something else that I say in yoga. “We’re not just meant to plod along on the earth. We also have a lightness in our being. We also have wings.” I’m glad for the practice of yoga. I’m glad that I often feel a sense of grounding, that I can breathe deeply and say, “More please! More of this good-feeling life!” I’m glad for the pedicured feet that walked me into this weekend of celebration, that flitted and mingled and danced their way through precious moment after moment. And a part of me would have liked to have breathed it in even more deeply, the smell of the honeysuckle wafting our way on a gentle breeze as we gathered for the ceremony, the heat of the sun that broke through the clouds at the perfect moment, the peonies spilling over with blossom, the absolute radiant joy on her face as Diana, gorgeous in her gorgeous dress, walked down the grassy path, arm in arm with her father, a part of me that would have liked to have mingled with even more presence, to have felt the river of emotion even more deeply.
And yet, there’s that moment of lift-off, when your feet leave the ground and none of those “would haves” or “should haves” really matter. I’m remembering a moment now, one that I had forgotten. In the grassy stone-walled courtyard in Knoxville’s arboretum where Chris and Diana were married, just as they had finished saying their vows, heartfelt handwritten vows, as they paused in the shade of the tree, holding hands, looking at each other, and bursting with radiant full-bodied smiles, it appeared, lifting off from the ground. As if on cue for all of us to see, it floated right up in front of Chris and Diana — and then, up up up, this light-winged butterfly fluttered, up into that now-sunny sky. There are some moments when we are just meant to fly!