Theme3-2018

What Does It Mean to Be
A People of Balance?

When we talk of balance, it’s natural for calm and rest to be the first things that come to mind.  There’s no getting around it: many of us are tired. We’re overworked, over-busy, over-committed.  Striving and stress have become the badges we wear to prove that we are of worth.  We are often so weighed down by responsibility and worry that it only takes one drop of something unexpected to tip us over.  So, yes, we long for rest.  Yes, we want less to manage and juggle.  Yes, we need balance’s reminder that a place of calm and peace is possible.

And yet, pointing us to peace and calm is not all that balance is about.  Being a “people of balance” is often 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 challenged and toppled.  We need to sacrifice our calm and comfort, and instead “go all in.”  Achieving a balance of equality requires us to be purposefully off-balance with our culture, or as Martin Luther King Jr said, we need people who are “maladjusted.”  Being out of sync with “the way things are” is the first step toward a better balance for all.

Add all this up and suddenly “balance” takes on a new meaning.  Actually, it takes on many new meanings.  Balance is not simply a destination, but also a place of invitation.  It’s not a static space of peace, as much as a stillpoint on which we pivot and turn to something new.  It’s not just about rest, but about resting up for a journey.  Yes, balance allows us to catch our breath, but it’s also about finding our center so we can end all our aimless wandering around.  It’s fine to think of balance by imagining 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.”

Another way to put all this is to ask, “What is your balance for?”  Maybe instead of asking each other, “Have you found balance?” we need to ask “Where is your balance taking you?”  Yes, balance sometimes can be an end in itself, but this month and its observances remind us that more often balance is a means to a greater end.  In other words, maybe balance isn’t the prize but the springboard.  Maybe balance isn’t the goal, but the source of strength that gets us where we need to go.

Which means that our most important questions this month might actually be, “Do you know where you’re trying to get to?” and “Which kind of balance will help you along your way?”