Keeping Our Covenants With A Loaf of Bread
In the middle of the second pew, between my young friend Patrick (who sits by me if I remember to bring my Grandma bag) and a squirming red-headed 14-year-old boy, the Lord told me how to heal my back. For months I haven’t been able to do anything but sit, stand, or lie down, a departure from a happy life working at anything I set my mind to. Every time something falls on the floor I walk my hands down my thighs or use my gardener’s squat (one forearm resting on a knee) because my back screams. Everyone gets tired of your pain that never goes away, so you learn to keep it to yourself. But it never goes away. So I prayed.
The answer: Abby, sitting over there on the 6th row along the North wall with her own squirming row of munchkins.
Abby teaches yoga. I know how to do yoga. I’m perfectly capable of studying exercises to release muscles in my back and practicing them on my own. After all … google and youtube. And it’s not like I lack stick-to-it-iveness. I’m part bulldog.
But there it was, take it or leave it, as the spirit often speaks.
So I asked her, would she take me on as a private client? There was no way I could make it through one of her classes. This was going to have to be one-on-one. I looked into her eyes and told her that the Lord had sent me to her because she could heal me. She was intimidated. That’s a lot to load on someone. But she agreed. We would meet on Wednesdays at 7AM.
The first morning we took a baseline. Could I do uttanasana, leaning forward to touch my toes from hands over head? My hands went about 12 inches forward then I dropped them to my thighs to hold my torso up as I leaned over. Breathe out, she said. I had to learn to breathe. You hold your breath a lot when it hurts to move.
I struggled to the floor to try Chaturanga dandasana, lying face-down on the floor with my palms spread beside me. “Lift up into a baby cobra,” Abby said gently. I started to arch my back up and made it about 4 inches. “Here is one problem,” she said quickly, as her hands adjusted mine. “Splay your hands wide wide wide with your middle finger pointing straight forward and keep your whole palms on the floor flat.”
I heard what she said next, something about it causing unnecessary tension and eventually carpal tunnel to do it incorrectly (as I always have), but my mind was flooded. The minute she touched me, resetting my hands, something let loose in my back. It waved and waved and waved. I remembered difficult times, times when I’d had to stand alone, times when I had been terrified, times when I was sure that I was not enough for the crucial things that were facing us. I have long believed in muscle memory, so I was not surprised by a physical thing releasing emotional things, but what surprised me was that it was her touch that stimulated a beginning healing.
I have done the exercises she has given me religiously and I can lean over and touch my toes most days now. Our second week we began a new series that has released a lot of soreness. But I learned something as that first day stretched on filled with periods of profound weeping, each releasing another layer of tension. It wasn’t the yoga, it was Abby. The Lord blessed Abby with something that would help me heal. It may not have been what Abby knew, but who she was.
Her heart was turned to mine and the Lord used what she had to heal me.
In the general broadcast of Women’s Conference, Pres. Monson told a moving story of a young woman who was slipping away, and though she was surrounded by people who loved her and were serving her, they didn’t have the one thing she needed, the one thing that could work as a catalyst to set her on a road to recovery. It was a near stranger who was inspired to bring a loaf of bread.
A loaf of bread.
We keep our covenants by being willing to bear one another’s burdens. It really all boils down to that. But it is so ill-defined that few of us feel that we are keeping our covenants. Does that require perfection? A near angelic, listening-to-Mo-Tab-24-7 sort of lifestyle? Is it enough to keep ourselves off the naughty list, or is something else required?
I think the prophet has defined what it is: just show up with what you have.
A loaf of bread, when it’s needed. Resetting someone’s hands, at just the right moment. The Lord doesn’t ask us to do anything superhuman. We don’t have to fall into bed exhausted every day running to fix everyone’s problems. He is handling things. We just need to be willing to be sent on an errand, to give the thing he’s already given us to someone else.
Give it a listen again. Square your shoulders. You’re going to be someone’s angel. You’re keeping your covenants, with all the blessings that flow from that. You’re fine. How cool is that?