Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Hitting the Mark

There is a story in the New Testament about the high priests refusing to enter the Judgement Hall during the trials of Christ because they did not want to defile themselves during the passover. This contradiction hit me painfully hard. How could they miss the mark so painfully off? Thinking they were sooo holy, yet, truthfully they were destroying the very embodiment of holy. Am I missing the mark? How do I not suffer the same fate? How do I then "HIT" the mark? This is the key in the end- learning what it takes to hit the mark.Hitting the mark requires accuracy- accuracy requires correct teachings/principles and then consistent practice, diligent effort, learning, and even mistakes. If hitting the mark is put in context of archery or shooting it is easier to understand the effort and diligence required to consistently hit the mark. "Good" constantly asks/requires us to be diligent-and that is true for everything. Not much in this world "stores". Exercise doesn't store, faith doesn't store, food doesn't store , neither does talents, relationships, knowledge, or even sleep. They all need nurturing. We can't ever expect something to just be there for us.
I wonder why so many of us push back so hard against consistency. Do we view it as a loss of freedom? Being tied down? Is it a fear of failure -encouraging us not to put so much in only to fail? Or is it the monotony that comes in the repetition required to master and maintain once the novelty has worn off? I relate to plies and tondues for dancing. How many plies or tondues have I done in my life? Hundreds of thousands. It has gone through many phases in my life- first novelty, then monotony, but now they are my old friend. I love them, they are simple yet vital. It is like coming home, peaceful and even a joy. It is like a musician who has done scales for 20 years. I imagine that when they sit and play scales now that it is almost a form of meditation, familiar, calming, it just feels good. i think this is the blessing of consistency. It is a challenge to get to this point and a constant effort to maintain but there is an arrival where the things we commit to become love and devotion. We know it, it is safe, and we can settle letting our guard down and our souls expand. If we do not commit we are not grounded to anything and there is no rest.
If this is the outcome- again I ask why do we push back? Perhaps in the process of commitment we discover more about ourselves and that frightens us. Maybe it is the perceived sacrifice that is inherent to any commitment we fear. Sacrifice of time, money, or pleasure. Yet it is sacrifice that creates depth strength purpose and meaning. Commitment, true commitment is a transforming process. I ran across a quote on commitment in a Yoga Journal a couple of years ago, " Without commitment, life is a free-for- all, a series of hook-ups, and mere dabbling. You'll never have the sustained intimacy in a 3-month affair that you have with someone you've been with for 10 years. There is no way that a week long retreat in yoga will give you the kind of power and sustained opening that you get from years of daily practice. Without wholehearted commitment- a kind of for-better-or worse agreement with yourself that you're going to show up for this person, or this project, even if it's not going well, even if you're not in the mood. Our capacity for keeping our commitments makes progress possible."
Commitment- true commitment is nothing less than a transforming process. it is how we create ourselves. think about it. In what other form do we change voluntarily? So we see why God asks commitment from us. That is the very first step in the gospel, baptism. Essentially baptism is an action of committing ourselves to God, to our fellowman, and even to ourselves to participate and invest in the gospel. So much so that the symbolism is that we are dying in the water and being reborn a new person. Unfortunately that instant in the water doesn't change our nature to be holy. But, it is what we will become if we are true to the commitment the water symbolizes. In furthering our progress in the temple the lord asks us to even deepen our level of commitment and asks us to be consistent in our attendance furthering our potential to "become".
I believe the value of anything we participate in consistently is rarely found in the beginning nor in a single episode but is found years later like the musician or dancer who has been transformed into master by diligence and has gained peace, joy, and self in a way no one will ever find without paying the price- the tuition of consistency, diligence and commitment.
In the church we are asked to be consistent in many things. I believe it is not only to enable us to hit the mark, but so we can enjoy these blessings and the transformative power inherent to being consistent. Home teaching, visiting teaching, scripture study, prayer, temple attendance, marriage, fostering friendships, honoring father and mother, working on talents... Anything which requires consistency and commitment are the true sources of joy, peace and personal creation.

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