When we talk about finding our center, it’s natural for calm and rest to be the first things that come to mind. Who would expect anything different? After all, the need for calm is everywhere we look. So, so many of us are tired. We’re overworked, over-busy, over-committed, and overly scared. We are often so weighed down by responsibility and worry that it takes only one drop of something unexpected to tip us over. So, yes, we long for rest. Yes, we want the swirl to stop.

And yet, helping us find peace and calm is not the only work found on this path of finding our center. 

As our faith reminds us, being a “centered person” often involves the opposite of keeping things calm. In order to move toward a balance of justice, we have to upset the current state of things. Oppressive systems need to be challenged and toppled. And to accomplish that, we need to sacrifice calm and comfort, including our own. We need to remember that achieving a balance of equality requires us to be purposefully off-balance and out-of-step with our culture, or as Martin Luther King Jr. said, we need people who are maladjusted to the way things are.

Add all this up and suddenly “our center” appears to be a much richer place than is often recognized.

It’s not simply a place of peace and calm; it’s also a place of being pushed and launched. What you hear in this deep space within is not just the whisper of “Rest” and “Breathe,” but also “Take a deep breath and jump!” We encounter an invitation there — not just relaxation. It’s a still point, yes, but a still point upon which we pivot and turn to something new.

So as we try to make sense of “finding our center” this month, it’s fine to pull up the image of the Buddha sitting peacefully under a tree, but we can’t let that overshadow the image of a diver balancing way up there on her diving board, pausing to regain her composure and courage so she can leap and go “all in.”

Maybe in the end, instead of only asking each other, “Are you centered these days?” we need to ask, “Where is your center sending you these days?” and “Where is your center calling you to go?”

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