Recently I’ve faced a period of upheaval and change at home. Some of this has been positive, and some of it less so. I started a new job and am making excellent progress at work, enjoying my new workplace and feeling like I may have finally found a career I can follow for the rest of my working life. However at the same time, I’ve experienced serious issues in my marriage and family life which have led me to great unhappiness.

Twelve months ago, I was in therapy talking about the stresses of my job and taking my only comfort in a happy marriage and family life. Things have turned completely around in both areas in a short space of time. It’s not an unfamiliar reflection, that life is never either utterly perfect or utterly miserable. Sometimes the greatest joys can become our greatest pains, and vice versa; too much attention on one area of our life at the exclusion of the others can create imbalance and disharmony.

I am of course reflecting on this change of situation, looking for answers and trying to identify the right path to follow to strike some sort of balance. I come back, as I increasingly do in times of need or strife, to our tenets, code and creed. These three core sections of our doctrine give us a model for action, a lens through which to interpret the dichotomies of reality as we habitually perceive it, and a mission statement for our approach to life.

The Tenets show us the importance of focus, and it was through focus that I got my new job. I researched the industry I hoped to enter, found a suitable position, performed well during the selection process and my hard work paid off when I was offered the job. But focusing on the wrong thing or making our focus too narrow can lead to problems. If I focus all my attention on my career, other areas of my life may suffer. A happy balance is often preferable to single-pointed determination, and there must be both attention (to acquire knowledge) and reflection (to process this into wisdom) in our approach. By putting ourselves onto a single track, we can become blinkered and consign even vitally important things to our poor “peripheral vision”. Better to maintain focus on all important things than give wide attention to a single issue.

The Code teaches us that balance and harmony are preferable to extremes, which backs up the point about focus; we must strive to achieve harmony and balance in our approach to life. We must accept things as they are, but also understand their opposite, and the lessons one can teach about the other. There are times where we may feel great emotion, but those times teach us about peace and finding stillness in ourselves as a basis for moving onward; we may be ignorant of the full facts of a situation (for example another’s perspective) and need to learn more to move on. Passion blinds us but it is an expression of authentic feeling – we should not stifle it, but we should work to understand it, let it play out and transmute it into serenity. Everything can be chaos, but that is how we come to learn the importance of harmony. And even when something seems dead, cold, hard, fixed, we can choose to understand it as simply another stage in the never-ending change that is the Force.

The Creed teaches us that we should “speculate to accumulate” in the sense of “giving to receive” and “pardoning to be pardoned”, even going so far as to suggest it is in “dying we are reborn to eternal life”. We find ourselves in that which we give to others. We expand beyond the limits we define for ourselves and push ourselves to achieve more in others than we could alone. I gave myself to my new job; I pushed myself beyond what I knew I could achieve. I let my fears fade into the past. But what have I achieved in my marriage? Have I focused more on being loved than loving? Have I pardoned rather than wanting pardon? These are pertinent questions which I am yet to answer, and much reflection and contemplation lies ahead on this path.

This sermon is general in nature, because I am talking primarily about the application of our core doctrine to my current situation. We can all do this; reflect on our own situations in light of this guiding wisdom. We can use the tenets, code and creed as lenses or filters through which to identify imbalance and disharmony in our own lives. And we can also use them to realise that imbalance is, to some extent, natural.

I reflect on my recent study of the documentary The Code, as part of my Apprenticeship. In it, experts formulate a “perfect” snowflake, one which is perfectly symmetrical, six-pointed and everything a snowflake is imagined to be. The same experts point out that these “perfect” snowflakes occur only once in a million times; in the real world, everything is in flux. There are many competing forces (wind, humidity, temperature) impacting on the creation of these snowflakes which make it unrealistic to expect them to form “perfectly”. So it is with our lives; we must be active, engaged, and that means things will change. A year ago, my job was hell and my home life seemed perfect. Today, the opposite seems the case.

The place of a Jedi is in the world, within this flux, this change. Change is the nature of the Force. We cannot be fixed, and cannot expect the world to be fixed. It is a mistake to pretend we’ll never need to re-evaluate, re-prioritise, shift in our outlook or our approach. But we can hold true to some things: things like our core values, reflected in the tenets, code and creed.