I’m pondering a midlife correction. I was inspired by a column in this week’s Christian Century by Martin Copenhaver called, “In praise of an unbalanced life.”
I’ve taught and preached for years about leading a balanced life. For several years the diocese had me come and do a presentation that I called Sabbathkeeping for the newly ordained clergy.
After reading Martin’s thoughts, I’m rethinking this. Based on his words, I am no longer sure that Scripture tells us to live a balanced life or that Jesus lived a particularly balanced life. The metaphors that Martin uses are that keeping work/rest/play/study/worship balance is like seeing how long I can stand on one foot or how far I can walk with a tray full of glasses before dropping one of them and breaking it.
What we read about in Scripture and see Jesus doing is living fully into the rhythm of life. The Bible tells us to work six days each week and then to cease from working. Scripture sets days for feasting and other days for atonement, and many other days to live the ordinary.
What I see Jesus doing well over and over again, is being in rhythm, as he is fully present wherever he is, for as long as he needs to be. He spends an evening teaching his disciples five chapters worth of last things. Then he spends three or so hours on the cross, three days in the tomb, forty days meeting and greeting and eating post-resurrection, ten days of absence, before day fifty when come fire and wind on Pentecost.
It seems to me today– to be on Jesus’ way, to live a Jesus life, to know the Jesus truth, to ask Jesus to help us do even greater things than he did–knowing he’ll say yes every time that we get our lives lined up with his–it won’t be about balancing on one foot. It will be about being in Jesus rhythm; it will be more like a dance than a balancing act.
Sometimes feeling alone.
Sometimes with a partner.
Sometimes all night long.
Something only tapping our feet.
There will be lots of dancing rooms–
Ballrooms and restrooms. Kitchens and closets. Gardens and offices.
As God would have it, this week I have an unexpected four day retreat at Camp Allen, our diocesan retreat center. Each week they schedule a “chaplain in residence,” clergy or lay, to pray the daily office of Morning and Evening Prayer in All Saints Chapel. We are to be on call for other needs, but my experience has been that for an hour of liturgical prayer, I get twenty three hours of rest and recreation in a cabin by the lake. I’ve decided to take these four days and ponder living in rhythm rather than balance. As I left yesterday to travel here, I grabbed Macrina Wiederkehr’s Seven Sacred Pauses: Living Mindfully through the Hours of the Day. I’m using it as my retreat guide these four days.
Balancing or dancing? Some of both? Or something brand new? I’ll let you know.