Who moved my drishti?
Time for a review of last year. Among my last year’s resolutions: to show up at yoga classes more often, for a variety of reasons. One good reason: to learn from my wife, the yoga instructor, and to know more about her work. She’s a good teacher, on many levels. Another goal: to work on my own sense of balance, in a variety of ways. In its most literal sense, this goal involves gravity defying/denying stances, made all the more challenging by the graceful ease of folks on neighboring mats.
Some days I have found that my balance is just fine. Other days, not so much. Just like life. But one of the things I learned is that it’s important to have a focal point, which in Sanskrit is called a drishti.
I learned this one day when I was practicing, doing a gravity experiment, focused on a water bottle that was placed by my neighbor’s mat. And then he moved it. And then I fell over. Gravity experiment concluded. Since then, I’ve learned to try to focus on something immovable. Steady. Trustworthy. (Not a bad life lesson, related to the wisdom of the desert fathers: Do not give your heart to that which can not satisfy your heart.)
As I look forward to 2018, I resolve to learn more about balance, in all the ways that balance presents itself as a challenge. A lot of that has to do with focus. In the words of the civil rights movement, it’s about keeping eyes on the prize. In the changes and chances of life (a phrase swiped from the Prayer Book), in our ADD culture where much seems out of balance, is there a path marked by constancy?
A lack of focus can be a seasonal disorder. (Liturgical purists will note we are still in the Christmas season, and many of you may not be reading this at 9am on New Year’s Day, since you just went to sleep.) Viewed objectively, the demands of the holidays can seem ludicrous. How did such a beautiful feast day, begun in humble simplicity, get so crazily complicated? Is that why Jesus came into the world? How do we maintain balance, with focus on the reason for the season?
Yuletide seasonal disorder can carry over into the rest of the year. In my work with clergy, especially folks who’ve been in the church a while, I too often find they have lost touch with their first love, with why they got into ordained ministry in the first place. Demands of bulletins and buildings, concerns about pledging units and parishioner critique can knock them off balance and take away the power of the initial call, which is after all a matter of the heart. When did they lose their drishti? Who moved it?
That can be true for all who serve in the church, those who may feel that the call to life in a faith community now feels like a wrong number. There’s a marked increase in the number of “nones” and “dones’ in our culture, those whose religious affiliation is listed as none, or whose experience with the church causes them to be done. There are many explanations for that, but somebody, something moved their drishti.
On this the first day of the year, it’s a good time to ask: where’s the focus? Can we maintain balance by setting an intention for the year ahead? If that seems daunting, how about an intention for just the next few days, perhaps leading up to the observance of Epiphany, on January 6. Do we see a star, even if far off? Can that star set a stable course as it points to the word made flesh, full of grace and truth.
Let that grace be our drishti. Set an intention, a resolution this week. Focus on grace, on the love shared and celebrated in the (ongoing) Christmas season, expressed in Christina Rossetti’s poem below. It is love that comes with simplicity and generosity, free of condition. It is love freely given, love to be freely shared, not just at this time of year, but all year long.
Since it’s still the Christmas season, a favorite Christmas poem by Christina Rossetti:Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, Love Divine,
Love was born at Christmas,
Star and Angels gave the sign.Worship we the Godhead,
Love Incarnate, Love Divine,
Worship we our Jesus,
But wherewith for sacred sign?
Love shall be our token,
St. Paul’s Drishti,
I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on towards the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.
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