Strange, isn't it, that this season of expectation, of Advent, is also the most frenetic time of the year. We sing "all is calm, all is bright, sleep in heavenly peace" in church, then rush off to Costco to finish our Christmas shopping.
But at all times, life is full of choices and dilemmas that relate to the question of balance. Am I too busy? Am I putting my time and energy into the right things? Is this job using my gifts well? Do I have enough money saved for the future?
Communion of Glitches has been thinking about balance.
Finding balance is something people obsess over, particularly this time of year. Every television spot, magazine spread, or newspaper article on holiday plans mentions the need to attain balance. Usually, balance is to come from paring down one's to-do list, taking half an hour to oneself every day, saying no to a few things, etc. Lately I have been wondering about balance and faith.
... For example, Jesus tells us that we don't know the day or the hour of his return and that we need to keep a constant watch lest we be caught unprepared. How do I balance that spiritual preparation with the likelihood that I have many years of life left to me? Is it just fear that keeps me from, say, donating all I have to the poor rather than setting up a retirement account? Is what I call "being practical" really a lack of faith in God to provide for my needs?
... How far into "the world" can I go while still keeping my faith? Obviously, some people would answer, "Not at all." But outside of ultra-orthodox communities, the question of balance comes up again. How much does the music to which I listen, the non-Christian friends with whom I hang out, the books and magazines I read, etc. influence me? How "in the world" can I be before I am "of the world"?
These are all great questions to ask ourselves, especially as we approach the New Year and consider "resolutions" for better living in 2008.
Go read Whereon he thought of himself in balance and consider the questions Glitch poses. In what ways is our obsession about balance driven by God's influence on our lives, and how might we be living out of balance? Are Christians called to a different sort of balance than others? If so, what does that sort of life look like?
Isn't it easy to ask heavy questions if you don't have to supply the answers?
(If you're looking for an interesting way to stimulate your thinking about balance, go to your local video store and rent a DVD called Koyaanisqatsi (co-yahn-ee-SKA-tsee) with a musical score by Phillip Glass. Be warned that it's an "artsy" movie my wife runs from the room whenever I want to watch my copy. Koyaanisqatsi is a Hopi Indian word that means "life out of balance.")