Balance is a big topic these days. We long for it, we read about it, we get therapy to find it, we go to church hoping God will give it to us. Yet, as much as we try to capture or achieve it, it seems strangely elusive – it’s a little like trying to catch the moon. We’ve all seen the moon hanging so low in the sky that it seems you could almost touch it. All the while, you know that the moon is not as close as it sometimes appears.
Balance is like that. At times, it seems incredibly near to us. We have a good day, we feel peace in our heart after a period of turbulence, or we are free from struggle, depression, or anger. Then, just as we are ready to circle our arms around our balanced state and claim it as our own, a rock hits our windshield and leaves spidery cracks, we get a phone call that a dear friend has been diagnosed with cancer, our spouse forgets a promise yet again, our investments tumble as the Dow spirals down. All the peaceful balance that we thought was so near—so easy to reach—so abundantly present—is as far away as the illusory moon that fooled us with her apparent closeness.
Everyone longs for peace. We want to feel calm. We want to trust that all is well with our world. We want to be on an even keel, be spared the changes and chances of life that rip us up inside or leave us questioning why we are in the midst of endless chaos. We all want to feel an easy serenity, like the fading of night as it gives way to the soft palette of dawn —without harsh reactions and responses. Yes, we want peace, we want balance, but the gift of peace—the treasured gift of equipoise—can come only when we let go of what we’re holding on to, or to what has a hold on us.
The poet Ranier Maria Rilke wrote: “all emotions are pure which gather you and lift you up; that emotion is impure that seizes only one part of your being and so distorts you.” We find peace a stealthy bedfellow when we are unwilling to relinquish those emotions that have seized only one part of our being. But we have two allies to help us. First is meditation where we learn the skill of letting go. Second is staying present in the moment because this is where we practice the skill learned in meditation.
The seeming impermeable barriers between us and ourselves, between us and others, between us and our enemies, between us and all creatures are really very soft and transparent. When we bravely let go of what keeps us knotted up, we see right through to the reality of things, and in the space of a moment, we find ourselves balanced beside God.