March Theme: Balance

DonSense – by Rev. Don Garrett

March: 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. Striving and stress have become the badges we wear to prove that we are of worth. So, yes, we long for rest. We want less to manage and juggle. We long for a balance that takes us to a place of peace and calm. And yet, peace and calm is not all that balance is about.

We need to bear in mind that 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 may need to sacrifice our calm and comfort, and instead “go all in.” Achieving balance may call 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” can the first step toward a better balance for all.

In this light, balance is not simply a destination, but also a place of invitation. It’s not a static space of peace, as much as a still point 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 our aimless wandering. One image of balance may be symbolized by the Buddha sitting peacefully under a tree, but balance is also the image of a diver balancing way up there on the diving board, pausing to re-gain composure and courage to make the grand leap possible.

But, as we imagine forgoing a kind balance that is restful peace and consider, instead, balance as the image of a dynamic pivot to a new direction, let’s not lose sight of balance as equanimity. Finding the still point within can help make it possible to embrace life’s challenges with a mindfulness that limits the degree to which our own emotions tip the scales and change the trajectory of the kind of healing changes we long for.

Equanimity is not necessarily peace or peaceful; it is a state characterized by dynamic balance. We’re neither pulled one way or another, even as we enter in the fray. As we sing in Spirit of Life, “Sing in my heart all the stirrings of compassion . . . roots hold me close, wings set me free; Spirit of Life, come to me.”

See you in church.