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Reflections from Rev. Alan Taylor

Becoming a People of Balance

Rev. Rev. Alan Taylor, Senior Minister

I was walking briskly in my brand new black suit, trailing a couple of other people I was accompanying to an appointment. We were a couple minutes late. “Hurry up, move a little faster and catch up with them” went through my head, but what I should have been thinking was “Notice those two steps approaching.” I passed others walking in the same direction just before I quickly ascended those steps. My shoe didn’t quite clear the top one, and I tripped. Momentum threw me forward to the pavement. I bruised my knee, scraped my hands that caught my fall, and ripped the pants of that lovely new suit.

I’ve reached the age when balance first brings to mind physical balance. I’m not as steady on my feet as I used to be. I trip more easily. I am more prone to losing my balance. But balance—spiritual balance—is something that we all are prone to struggling with, especially any of us with a lot on our plate. I love how the Soul Connections packet says, “Sometimes balance is as simple as remembering to take time to breathe.” One basic way to achieve spiritual balance is to set aside time for breathing, noticing, paying attention: time when we need not hurry, but can be present with what is going on inside us and outside us. You may call this meditation, contemplative prayer, or mindfulness reflection.

It can be challenging as a parent to make this time between home life and work. But the busier we are, it is all the more important for our spiritual health to make time. Thomas Merton and a number of other sages have said, “I usually pray/meditate an hour a day, but if I’m really busy, I do so two hours a day.”

Seeking balance calls us to make time not just for focused attention., but also to make time to go about our day without hurry or professional obligations. And this includes a time for play, for walks, for reading. The religious word for this is “Sabbath.” Jewish and Christian traditions urge us to take an entire day for Sabbath, an entire day to simply be with family, friends, or simply oneself. Sabbath is a time of rest and renewal.  A wonderful thing to do on one’s Sabbath is attend Unity Temple. Can you set aside time before and after church to enhance your sabbath? At the very least, I urge you to set aside 20 minutes a day when you simply take the time to breathe, and open up to mindfulness reflection.

Sabbath and spiritual practice both provide us the capacity to lead more balanced lives—and to move through life less preoccupied with hurrying along. As we become ever more people of balance, we are capable of moving through the world more with what the Buddhists call “skillful means.” We are capable of choosing how we want to respond to the challenges in our life. And we can pay more attention, such that we need not scrape our knees or rip our pants!

May this be a nourishing month as we explore what it means to be a people of balance.