8/19/2005

When A Yoga Master and the Pope Meet

One of the interesting things about reading several books at the same time is that themes tend to play against each other, creating a dialogue likely never imagined. When Pope John Paul II was simply known as Bishop Karol Wojtyla, he conducted a retreat, providing daily talks on the Christian path to young college students in attendence. In contrast, yoga master and writer Jeff Davis shares his insight into both discplines to create a mindful writing method in his book The Journey from the Center to the Page (which on glance at Amazon, has apparently been remaindered as a hardback, so the paperback is actually more expensive than the cloth cover version. Interesting.)

*shakes head to clear thoughts*

On the one hand, Davis shares his conviction that ritual is an integral part of a successful writer's life. Rituals define writing space, making the act of writing a sacred thing. In my heart, I believe what he is saying is true for me. I seem to write best when I define my writing space distinctly as opposed to haphazardly trying to write something down between this task and that. But lets face it, as a working mom facing the very real possiblity of adding another part-time job to her already busy schedule, the looseness required to honor ritual seems a remote possibility. However, the impression is clear especially in light of my recent exploration of Babaylan. Ritual moments are important and I'd argue, for myself, essential to both my well being as well as my writing. Rituals provide balance between the busy-ness of our day to day world with the stillness needed to tap into the passion that fuels art.

Enter JPII. If there is one thing we can say about the Catholic Church, it's all about ritual. Theodrama. Ritual and repetition ground the Mass, the Rosary, the Book of Hours. In his second talk Christianity, the Religion of Choice, JPII continues his idea of community and conversation between God and Creation from the first chapter on God Is Person. His view focuses on the Gospels as revelatory, and not so much in the sense of prophetic or historic, although he is adamant that the Gospels are these things also. But by saying that the Gospels are revelatory, he means that they are one side of a conversation that God is trying to carry on with Creation, that the entire life of Christ is about bringing about balance between God and Creation. (The choice part for JPII comes into whether or not we choose to believe this is what's happening.)

So from reading this pair (thank you Mark Geisler of WWU for showing me this method of close reading) for me I can say that Life gets out of balance because I'm juggling so many things at once. Being out of balance means I can't focus on writing very well. The key to achieving balance is to first recognize there's an imbalance then enter into a ritual that creates the space for balance. The beauty of it, though, is that this points to the possibility that writing is not outside my faith, but that actually the pattern of my faith might reveal how to go about being the writer I aspire to become.

(It's interesting to note here too, that I first learned the key concepts behind close readings - historical/cultural context, alignment of key passages to other parts of narrative, connection to experience and other texts - from the homilies I heard each Sunday and Holy Day. Thankfully, most of the priests I've encountered are really good at close readings and have strengthened my ability to enter into texts more fully.)

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