welcome sign with hearts

Meditation: Shrug it off

This meditation formed the basis of the Holy Yoga class I taught last week.


Mark 6:8-13: These were his instructions:

“Take nothing for the journey except a staff — no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. Wear sandals but not an extra shirt. Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” (NIV)


A couple of years ago, my son and I started a craft project. It was something I’d picked up from JoAnn’s years before he had come into our lives: a rectangular wood plaque with chunky wood hearts hanging down from it. As we primed the wood and put down the first layer of acrylic paint, I thought it would be sweet if he wrote in the rectangle, in his young penmanship, the word “Family.”

He did as I suggested … and then later painted over it, replacing “Family” with the word “Welcome.”

Well, that was nice too, even if it wasn’t quite what I had in mind. But somewhere between the multiple layers of paint and sealer, we got sidetracked, and I put the project away. For a couple of years.

A few weeks ago, I got it out again. Between adding another coat and sealing the whole thing, and discussions of how and where to hang it …  and the aesthetics of the hanger on which we would hang it … we managed to get our project hung a couple of days before Valentine’s Day.

Seeing the final product on our door, the word “Welcome” and all those hearts, the hanging suddenly said to me not just “Welcome,” but  “Welcome love” or “Welcome, love.”

It struck me that my son’s word provided a much better message than mine.

First, “Welcome, love”: We want to welcome with love more than just our own family. We want to welcome with love all who enter our home.

Second, “Welcome love”: Sometimes love is simply about welcoming whatever comes — or whatever we encounter — because who knows where love will come from? As an adopted child, my son has had to learn to welcome love, even when it comes from an untraditional place. As adoptive parents, so have my husband and I.

When we speak of welcoming love, it also brings up the idea of rejecting that-which-is-not-love: the idea that we need also to learn to shake off and leave situations that do not fit, sometimes even to the point of shaking dust from our feet.

And that can be hard. How often have I chased after a goal or a friendship that seemed wonderful or “just right” only to have it not work out … and then to chase after it again? And how often have those chases ended in disappointment, frustration, resentment and doubt?

Whether it’s a craft project, a relationship, a job or a day that doesn’t go as expected, this is what I want to learn: to welcome love … accept love … and shrug off the rest.

Bonus scripture

The Message version of this passage speaks plainly about how to be welcomed and how to let go:

Mark 6:8-13: He sent them off with these instructions:

“Don’t think you need a lot of extra equipment for this. You are the equipment. No special appeals for funds. Keep it simple. And no luxury inns. Get a modest place and be content until you leave. If you’re not welcomed, not listened to, quietly withdraw. Don’t make a scene. Shrug your shoulders and be on your way.” (MSG)

Bonus quote

“When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.”

— Helen Keller


Inhale for a count of 6.

Hold for a beat at the top of your breath.

Exhale for a count of 8.

Hold for a beat at the bottom of your breath.

Repeat several cycles.

This rhythm of breathing is said to cue the nervous system that it’s safe, that it is OK to relax. 


Shrug it off


Date: Feb. 14, 2019