Teeter-Totter Balance

teeter totter“To be wholesome, we must remain truthful to our vulnerable complexity. In order to keep our balance, we need to hold the interior and the exterior, visible and invisible, known and unknown, temporal and eternal, ancient and new, together.” – John O’Donohue, Anam Cara  (order the book here: Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom)

To be holy is to be whole. So easy! All we need to do is embrace the totality of ourselves.

Wait. That’s not easy at all. How the heck am I supposed to balance the mystic and the mundane, kairos and chronos, old memories, new experiences, my aging body, my deepening wisdom? That’s a task for a thaumaturge, not a mortal like myself.

Maybe that’s why so many religions emphasize one aspect of wholeness above another. On one hand, we have earth-centered Paganism, while on the other is Buddhism, with its emphasis on escaping the corporeal. Of course, I’m oversimplifying, but organized religions do tend to lean in one direction, ignoring (or reviling) the other. Christianity does a psychitzophrenic dance in the middle, abhoring bodily pleasure for its own sake while insisting on the resurrection of said flesh.

I don’t think balance means motionless stasis. Rather than a goal to be achieved, balance is like a teeter-totter, sometimes leaning one way, sometimes another. The ride is fun, but we generally don’t want to land too heavily on one end, because a jarring bump occurs if we do.

As a child, I loved standing in the middle of a teeter-totter, leaning gently one way and another, controlling the sway, enjoying the movement. That analogy works for me. As I gain skill, I can enjoy greater movement while retaining my balance. The better we develop our physical, emotional and spiritual muscles, fine-tuning our inner ear, the better we are at staying on – and enjoying! – the ride.

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