I was seven years old when Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out of Balance was released. That was also the year that I became conscious of God’s indwelling Holy Spirit and chose to move Him to the center of my awareness. The hymn I Have Decided To Follow Jesus, which has always been one of my favorites, took on greater meaning and I found myself slipping out from the pew one Sunday morning and walking down the aisle to publicly declare the decision I’d made to put myself in the orbit of Jesus.
I was baptized by my father later that year, buried to sin and death, and raised to new life. I don’t fully comprehend the mystery of the sacraments, but I know that when I came up out of that water my reality had shifted. My old friend, that small, still voice who has always been with me, began to speak more clearly. In those conversations, those inner whisperings of truth, I began to see those places in which life is out of balance, within myself and within the world around me. My newfound awareness of the dissonance between the actuality of our experience and its ultimate potential manifested itself in the usual ways, disappointment, sadness, anger, and shame, but beneath it all ran a golden seam of hope.
I have not always chosen to accept hope’s invitation to move toward balance, alignment, and harmony with our Creator, and myself. At times I have succumbed to the slumber of despair, drifting through life, half asleep, numbing myself with whatever diversion or distraction I stumbled upon. Yet, there continue to be those moments of encounter, when the time is right, that I find myself in that thin space, on the threshold between this plane and another, and I discover again that the journey is in the return.
I often find that it takes some bit of unpleasantness to wake me from that slumber, as the challenges of this year have served to do. It has not been an easy year, but I am disappointed, even discouraged, when I am faced with what feels like a collective desire for it to be behind us. It’s almost as if there is a desire to drift into sleep on December 31st and never wake from the dream that everything has returned to the way it was before, and we can proceed with business as usual.
When writing out the date, I found myself recording the year as 20/20, because I have come to believe that it has been a year of seeing clearly. The many challenges we have navigated this year have attempted to serve as corrective lenses, and it couldn’t be more clear that our lives are out of balance.
The shadows of the prophets have loomed large in the light of this year. In March we were reminded of how quickly the illusions we look to for safety and security can fade, as the Coronavirus began to sweep across the globe. Forced solitude provided us space to consider the powerlessness of the idols we turn to for comfort. In May, the knee of injustice and inequity came to rest on the throat of equality, a reminder that there are many among us who feel as if they can’t breathe, have received a message that their lives don’t matter, and who are suffocating beneath the weight of our nation’s generational sin. The Presidential Election season exposed the growing divide in our country, and our inability to engage in civil discourse or demonstrate love to our neighbor, much less our perceived enemy.
It took me ten years to discover Godfrey Reggio and Philip Glass’ Koyaanisqatsi, a film that reveals the extent to which humanity has grown apart from nature. I pray that we are mindful of the signs, daily, that we have strayed from the Way of Jesus, and that we would once again embark on the journey of return.
As we move through the Advent Season and eagerly anticipate Christ’s return, His waking us to the depth of our potential and the complete restoration and renewal of all things, may we find peace and balance in each and every moment, holding the tension between the pain of our past and the hope of our future. May our contemplation of what this year has held bring to light what is hidden in darkness and expose the motives of our hearts, that we may confess the sins of our past, and look with clarity upon our future, walking in the Way, into His path of peace.
Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen (Book of Common Prayer, Collect for Second Sunday in Advent)