The Weather Report JANUARY 2018

Allow me to begin by wishing you a Happy New Year. Whatever New Year’s Day traditions you adhere to, I pray that 2018 starts to your liking. Know that my thoughts include you and your well-being.
Perhaps you find the practice of reflecting on the previous year to be of particular meaning. This exercise is enhanced by possessing an eye for observing motion. Biographer Walter Isaacson unearthed from one of many notebooks Leonardo Da Vinci kept over his lifetime, voluminous notes regarding motion. Take his observation regarding the dragonfly in flight. “The dragonfly flies with four wings, and when those in front are raised those behind are lowered.”1   
With a similar eye for how things circulate, Leonardo studied the movement of water. A flowing river appears often in the background of his paintings. In his art he sought to freeze-frame the body of water all the while showing it in motion. “In rivers,” he noted, “the water that you touch is the last of what has passed, and the first of that which comes.”2  A keen interest in arresting an instant in motion goes to the heart of Leonardo’s genius. 
I am not inclined to make resolutions at the start of a new calendar year. Like others, my track record at fulfilling them is subpar. But I am willing to put my toe in the river, so to speak, at the point where the last of the year that has passed is the first of the year to come, and observe my life.
It was William James who observed that “our faith comes in moments; our vice is habitual.” This is so in part because the depth to faith is easily veiled by the bright glare of all other experiences. But then some unexpected turn or twist passes and allows one to see past the surface identity into the depths. It is as if our life is arrested for a moment and we behold the source that has silently fed us, lifted us.
One might apply Leonardo’s skill of observing motion to the year that has just passed. This would entail freeze-framing events or moments from 2017 that stirred feelings and thought deep within us, pushing us to acknowledge a higher origin of events than the faith that we call our own. I liken it to the psalmist claiming the happy individual to be like a “tree planted by streams of water.”3  To note that flowing river that does not begin with us but pours forth from the Creator enhances the likelihood of seeing fruit yielded in due season and leaves that do not wither.
From his study of the human eye, Leonardo put forth that no surface can be seen exactly as it is. With this knowledge he was consistent in blurring contours and edges. Not everything needs sharp lines, so he held. Something like this can be said of faith, I think. 
—Steven
 
 1Isaacson, Walter. Leonardo Da Vinci. P.180.
 2Isaacson, Walter. Ibid. P.180.
 3 Psalm 1.4.