The perpetual quest for balance...
We are living in the Holy glow of Easter, the season of new life, and the season of luscious springtime growth all around us in nature. Flowers, shrubs, and trees are blossoming before our eyes, bursting forth with color and beauty, inspiration and hope.
At St. John's we lived with the Lenten theme of "Living a Labyrinth Life: Letting Go in Lent." We learned some new ways of praying, and we prayed together. We fasted. We pondered what it means to let go of the things that separate us from God, and we lived with the hope that every time we let go of something, it makes room for something new.
And now we live more fully into that hope. What new thing is God revealing to us? And are we open to a new way of letting God in?
Eastertide is a time to dwell in the life and teachings of Jesus, and a time to recognize newness and renewal in our lives.
Our theme during this season of Easter is still "Living a Labyrinth Life." But this part of the journey is about "letting in." We wouldn't walk to the center of a labyrinth and then just stay there forever. The walk to the center of the labyrinth is typically a time of shedding away, a prayerful time of letting go and letting God. The time in the center of the labyrinth is an opportunity to dwell intentionally in God's presence. As much as we might want to stay in the center, our call is to complete the experience by walking out of the labyrinth. The walk out is a time of letting in, a time of fully receiving God's love, grace, and guidance as we return to our daily life.
There is a rhythm to our spiritual practice, a flow that includes works of piety and works of mercy. It's the balance of that flow that allows us to "let go" and "let in" in ways that are faithful and life-giving and sustaining for us and for those we seek to love and serve.
In these remaining weeks of Eastertide, in small group settings and through writings, I continue to draw heavily from Marjorie Thompson's book, "Soul Feast." We are discussing and discerning together how to practice other spiritual disciplines such as keeping Sabbath, the spirit of hospitality, and gathering in the Spirit for worship. Over the next few weeks we will also begin putting all of this together by developing a rule of life, a plan for helping each of us "receive and express more fully the gifts of the Spirit."
Christian tradition offers plentiful examples of both corporate and personal rules of life. Saints and Popes, scholars and social justice activists, covenant groups and individual pilgrims on the way all can benefit from a simple plan for practicing the disciplines of our faith. The ideal plan will offer growth and balance in body, mind, and spirit.
Like most ideals it is difficult to achieve. I continually struggle with creating the consistent time and space I want and need for prayer (petitions, praise, and silence), study of and meditation on God's holy word in scripture, walking and yoga practice, feeding and loving my neighbors, and being a voice for justice. I am grateful for covenant relationships with friends and colleagues who help hold me accountable and encourage me along the way.
The quest for balance is noble. But don't let it keep you from celebrating the balance already present in your life.
While I tend to focus on the times I fall short in my disciplines, I am remembering today the time I do spend reading and reflecting on God's Word. I am pondering how my prayer life has developed so that it is much more about listening to God rather than talking to (or at) God. I am giving thanks that with every breath I am reminded of the Holy Spirit around me and within me, reminded of God's abiding presence and love and amazing grace. And I give thanks.
So my encouragement for myself and for you is this:
Now. In this moment.
And know that you are loved.