Pondering the Myth of Balance
I have always been struck that Mary, the mother of Jesus, after learning that she was pregnant with the one whom many would later call to be the Messiah, somehow found time to “ponder these things in her heart.”
Who has time to ponder, especially in these days of pre-Christmas madness?
It is very hard to keep our center in the midst of chaos, despite all sorts of strategies to find “balance” in one’s life.
It is simply the nature of life to be out-of-balance on more occasions than not: work sometimes demands our attention more than family; relationships sometimes demand our attention more than laundry; self-care sometimes demands our attention more than bills, and so forth.
Could it be that rather than pursuing balance, we would be better served to pursue integration?
The sense of integration is that there is a flow between one facet of our lives and another. The more integrated our lives are, the more we live our lives with integrity.
Worth a ponder or two, I think.
Now to just integrate some time for it in my unbalanced schedule…..
What do you think?
Thanks for the Advent musings. Here are some random responses/questions, with no discernible theme or order. As someone in the throes of the last two weeks of a seminary semester, I’m all for integration; although it’s hard to discern which way, in many cases, our out-of-balanceness should be. I’m thinking of one of my favorite documentaries, Digital Nation from PBS Frontline (available at pbs.org). In a world where even the smartest MIT students are convinced they are supreme multi-taskers, even though studies show they are far less productive, how can we look at integration as something more than mulit-tasking. I understand that the concept is different, and that moving away from balance as the end goal is great! How does our understanding of incarnation as God’s embodying humanity shape our theological understanding of integration. Is an embodied life necessarily well-integrated…How, if at all, do integration and embodiment interact?
Matt, glad you chimed in!
1. I’m thinking that multi-tasking, as you hint, is fundamentally different than integration. I multi-task (actually, my sister says that before the accident I was a multi-tasker, and after the accident I became an omni-tasker!) when I drive and talk on the phone while keeping an eye on the children in the back seat.
That many recoil at that scenario (as do I, by the way) demonstrates that none of these individual actions has anything to do with the other. They just happen to be happening at the same time.
Integration is when I can fold the laundry while playfully showing Else how to roll the socks up, or when my vocation is something about which I truly do care and invest myself in outside of the “workday,” or when my religious language manifests itself in the way I tend to my relationships and view the world.
2. I have begun to think more on the situation of transgendered people. I am troubled by the pain they experience because their body tells them they are one way when their spirit tells them something else.
Very hard to feel embodied there.
And hence, very difficult to be integrated.
I would argue that healthy embodiment is indeed well-integrated.
In the case of transgendered folk, how can they be moved toward whole embodiment?
And generally, how is that that what we say we are about in one part of our lives echoes in another?
Much, my friend, as you will remember I insist in theology: What we say about God over here ought to be equally said and sensical over there too.