'Supersize me!' as a concept

When the mystics had visions of God, the visions filled their whole being and in an instant removed any doubt, cleared obstacles, and gave them courage to follow their calling.

It's this idea that intrigues me, and what I refer to as "Supersize me!"

The poet Rumi wrote, "There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground." Inner peace has been kindled in hundreds of ways in this heart that has prayed, "Supersize me!"

Pilgrimage to sacred places gives extraordinary glimpses of inner peace. You follow the paths where beloved Francis of Assisi journeyed to pray, imagining what it must have been like for him. You lay down your burdens at the statue of the Virgin, where countless others have come for consolation. You resonate with the Celts who saw there are places where the "veil is very thin" between this world and the Other.

In the processions of Holy Week, you know Christ as his body is removed from the cross and then carried through the streets to the monastics, to see his face, to touch him, and, like Thomas, know for oneself what is true and learn again what it means to call him our brother, this one whose whole life was the prayer "Supersize me."

An early Catholic education influenced me profoundly, building a relationship to my interior life through rituals of the sacraments. It laid a foundation for Christianity that, while strong, needed close, painful reexamination as an adult to discard ideas that linked God to abusive power, to intentional suffering and so on.

Yoga gave me tools to step back from misguided beliefs and reflect on what Christianity means. One of the great teachings of the Yoga tradition is ahimsa. Ahimsa can be translated as "do no harm." As both a Christian and a yogini, I've found ahimsa is one of many links between these two traditions that has been essential in my search for inner peace.

A crack of light came through a therapist's words during a dark time. She confided that at times this prayer got her through the day, "Oh God, even if I can't help anybody today, please let me do no harm." This has been my prayer when the tendency is to get upset with my husband or my family. There is inner peace when I vow to do no harm, fail "ten thousand times" and forgive myself and am forgiven, again.

On pilgrimage to Iona in the Inner Hebrides off the coast of western Scotland, we walked to the isle's sites of spiritual significance and came to Martyr's Bay.

In those days when Benedictine monks were still practicing the Celtic ways that included welcoming the stranger, they saw in the distance a ship sailing to their isle. It was their custom to go and greet whoever was arriving. It was a Viking ship.

All the monks were slain when they met the ship, hence the name Martyr's Bay. Their willingness to greet strangers (enemies) with welcome"… "Supersize me!"

My guru taught Sanatana Dharma from ancient India, an important spiritual practice for Westerners. It means live as though the whole world is your family. On Monday mornings at our church, we host a Bread Together program where all people are welcome to share a meal in the community. Some of our guests live outside. Looking into their eyes has shown me an inner peace that I hadn't known before. "Humanize me. Supersize me!"

Impressions from these lifetimes of moments carve out something sacred. This Celtic Rune of Hospitality prayer reminds me where I can find inner peace:

A Familiar Stranger

I saw a stranger today. I put food for him in the eating-place.

And drink in the drinking-place, And music in the listening-place.

In the Holy name of the Trinity, He blessed myself and my family.

And the lark said in her warble, Often, often, often Goes Christ in the stranger's guise. O, oft and oft and oft, Goes Christ in the stranger's guise.

Charlotte Nuessle is a certified Viniyoga therapist with more than 20 years' teaching experience. Visit www.ashlandyoga.net.

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