Tuesday, December 22 — by Lois Snavely

Proverbs 4:23 (The Message)
“Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts.”

The anahata, or heart chakra, is the fourth chakra according to the Hindu and Yogic traditions. In Sanskrit it literally translates to “unhurt, unstruck, and unbeaten.” It’s also the allegorical center of community in the Yogic body, the place where quite literally “me turns into we.” Compassion and connection arise from this place. I don’t know about you, but there have been many, many moments throughout 2020 where I’ve felt hurt, struck or beaten down with the cares that accompanied this year. And just as many times where it felt like me against the world, where divisions ran deep and I didn’t feel “at one” with my larger human family. There was no “we.” There was only “me.”

But here God is reminding us to keep watch over that special beating heart, that center of community, that place that helps us remain unhurt, unbroken, unbeaten, unstruck, and unstuck. While there are a myriad of ways for us to practice emotional self care and a myriad of ways to balance that chakra, I’ve been finding it most helpful in the back half of 2020 to go hunting for the places where “me turns into we.” Where do the deep jagged lines of division seem a little less daunting? Where can I find places of nuance, understanding, compassion and listening? And where are the echo chambers to avoid that tell me I’m the justified and right one and they’re the problem? If our heart is ever to get unstuck now or in 2021, it can’t be when we get everyone on our side and it certainly can’t be when we make sure the “me” is taken care of before the “we.”

In a recent end of year letter to alumni, Loyola University president Jo Ann Rooney said: “For Christians, God becoming one of us in the form of a homeless newborn whose family quickly became refugees fleeing personal violence can help us reframe our own reality and perspective.” It can help turn our hearts to those who look most like Jesus this Holiday season, and maybe it can help us turn our hearts as well to those who look a little bit more like the Roman soldiers than the baby Jesus.

Take care of that anahata. Don’t let anyone step on it or victimize it, but don’t let anyone encase it in bitterness either. If the “me” is truly to transform into the “we,” it’s going to mean a transformation of the entire human family.

O God, you are the ultimate balancer of our heart center. Help us remember when to draw healthy and helpful boundaries, and when to let others into the soft places of our lives. Help us through the steps of that delicate dance where “me turns into we,” where compassion and connection arise from the center of our beings, and where we see ourselves and our neighbors in both the Baby Jesus and the Roman Soldier. And help us to love both.