Balance or Rhythm?

The other day I posted a review of Nancy Ortberg’s book “Looking for God.” Her statement about balance as “a myth” that gives the “illusion of control” has been on my mind. At first, to read such a thing sounds almost sacrilegious, what with all the books on the subject, even in the Christian realm.

I guess there is something to be said for balance but really – how long do things ever remain in perfect balance? The image came to mind of a tightrope walker, treading step by step across the high wire holding out his long pole for balance. I guess some people get an honest thrill out of such a feat, even making a living out of doing so. But how many of us are walking a tightrope in many areas of our lives, trying to hold it all together? We fear being out of balance, and the subsequent consequences. How much enjoyment is there in that kind of journey?

The word rhythm evokes another image borrowed from the circus scene – that of the trapeze artist. (I posted some thoughts about this last spring that you might want to check out). Merriam-Webster defines rhythm as an ordered recurrent alternation of strong and weak elements in the flow of sound and silence in speech. And Wikopedia has an even more interesting definition: (from Greek ῥυθμός – rhythmos, “any measured flow or movement, symmetry”) the variation of the length and accentuation of a series of sounds or other events.

I am coming to appreciate rhythm as the strong arm of grace that embraces the rest as well as the work. The silence as well as time to speak. Solitude as well as community. The mistakes as well as the successes. The mess as well as the miracles. It seems to take into account the fullness of our humanity as it seeks to live into the fullness of God through the Spirit.

I might as well face it; I’m never going to get it all together! (And anyways, contrary to the barrage of media on the subject, is that really the goal?) But I can learn to live into a healthy rhythm of life. Going with the flow, not in an aimless drifting sort of way, but one that recognizes and embraces down times and messes and all things less than perfect as being part of life. In that space, those places of humanity and imperfection, grace has room to work.


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