When I lived in Iowa, one of the goals I set for myself was to earn a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. It took about 2 ½ years. There were four aspects to our training. The first series of classes I took were learning the basic kicks, punches, and stances that were then incorporated into forms and sparring series.
Belts were designated by color. White, which is the first belt, symbolizes the willingness of the student to be open to and learn what it means to be a martial artist. The second part of our training was to learn what each belt means and how one develops the skills of a martial artist.
A portion of each class was dedicated to learning a form, the pattern of each belt in physical movement. Sparring sessions helped to incorporate forms into fighting patterns that increased in complexity as one advanced from white to black belt.
There was also a time for spiritual enrichment. The dojo’s teachers had different ways of engaging our minds and our spirits as we learned the forms for each belt. As one progresses through the belt levels, the forms and sparring techniques become more complicated. The teachers began to add different ways to challenge students physically. Breaking boards and sparring against more than one opponent were introduced after the third or fourth belt.
I learned about balance through my Tae Kwon Do training. Repeating the kicks and punches helped to strengthen my physical equilibrium whenever I stepped through the forms and sparred against others. Repeating the tenets of Tae Kwon Do helped me to understand that there was more to the discipline than the physical training. Each class began with preparing for the physical demands of our time together. Each class ended with a time of meditation and reflection, to absorb what we had learned. I developed a calm and quiet center as part of my martial arts discipline.
Those practices have become a part of my Christian journey. As a pastor and child of God, I train daily. Although there isn’t a physical component to my spiritual practices, I read the Bible, spend time in prayer and meditation, sing my praises to God, and share my witness and testimony of God’s salvific acts in the world and in my life. Yesterday’s invitation to Come to the Well was a powerful way to share how each of us finds our own quiet center, and our own balance as we continue to journey through this pandemic season. God is with us wherever we are and in all that we do. May we continue to be blessed. And Amen.