On balance

One of the buzzwords of religious formation is "balance." In reflection paper after reflection paper, I have reflected on the question of balance in my life. How am I doing balancing community life, ministry, prayer, fun, family, friends and self care?

Truth be told, the search for balance is part of what drew me to religious life in the first place, only I didn't exactly call it that. What I remember expressing was a desire to integrate my work and spiritual life. I also knew that I wasn't in the mood to go down path of career burnout. I liked my job ok enough, most days, but it wasn't particularly life giving. What I found life giving was my weekend/evening gig as a church geek and peace & justice volunteer extraordinaire. I remember thinking, or actually having it pointed out to me by a wise friend, that maybe that was something I should think about.

So think about it I did. And here I am. Only the thing is, it's not I like I took a magic "balance" pill. It's still something I have to pay attention to and be intentional about.

The amazing thing of course is that I have a community of folks who are journeying with me. I have people who I pray with each day, and that brings joy as well as accountability. I have people looking for me at the end of my day, eager to share a meal with me and know how my day was just as I'm eager to know about theirs. That too brings joy and accountability. I have a ministry that I find very life-giving. That definitely brings me joy. No more pushing paper for the sake of pushing paper, as I often described my existence in my bureaucratic past. I've got old friends not too far away who I see fairly regularly, and I'm starting to develop new friends closer to home. So things are good.

Even if occasionally I oversleep and miss morning prayer (like today). Even if it's a struggle to find time to go to the fitness center (although I did manage that tonight). Even if ocassionally the stress bug tries to weasle its way into my life-giving ministry. In the end, I have made a commitment to act justly, to love tenderly, and to walk humbly in the way of peace. And that, I find, is a good mantra for those moments when balance seems a bit elusive. It all comes back to the desire, and then the intention to live out the desire. And then the actual living. To pray. To love. To live.

Those are my rambling thoughts this evening.

How do you go about finding balance in your life? The comment box is open!


Pachyderm said...

Hi Sr Susan

It is all about balance. It's one thing I really like about my own Order: with both St Francis and St Clare as patrons (with Our Lady, of course!) we have a model of inwardness to God (Clare) and outwardness to people (Francis), but both Francis and Clare walked "the other path" too - Francis with his intense desire for God in prayer, and Clare with her apostolic vision for the world.

For myself, I am rediscovering the Office - in particular, the Liturgy of the Hours, which gives me balance throughout my day. I love the gratefulness.org site, with the "Angels of the Hours" - something easy to do during morning or afternoon tea at work! I have also discovered the RC breviary for morning & evening prayer, after using various Anglican ones for years. I like the rhythm of the psalms that gives me wild, wonderful words to pray.

Ballet has started up again so the body is feeling as stretched as the mind and soul these days!

Robyn TSSF

Sarah said...

Haven't found it yet!

I've been known to fall asleep during morning prayer oops :)

Sr.Nicole Trahan said...

Thank you for your post...
Balance is a constant struggle for me and for a lot of people it seems. Because I'm a "planner" it helps for me to actually schedule time for those things I need in my daily life to be balanced - working out, private prayer, a chat with a good friend...

But, even though that helps, balance is still difficult. So, each day I just try again. That's all I can do, really. It's in God's hands.

Thanks again!
Sr. Nicole

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan,

Ahhhhhhh . . . . Balance. That's one of those elusive things that I (and the rest of us in life - religious or otherwise) will always be searching for. I agree that we are blest to have communities that call us to it, and notice when we are stretching ourselves too thin.

The conundrum is, you see . . . I have had many sisters tell me that I need to say "no" more often. And yet those same sisters never want me to say "no" to them. Not so surprising!

All that to say that you are attracted to a congregation of faith-filled, active women because that's who they are. And you, like they do, will struggle to find balance long past first vows . . . . long past final vows. Sometimes we achieve it, and sometimes . . .

But isn't it wonderful to stay in mixture of the tipping from one side to the next and find God in the mix?

Sarah said...

For me, chasing the ever-elusive BALANCE is about paying attention to the little choices I make and ensuring I'm in a good space to make good choices, even the small ones. When I'm closer to being balanced, feeling balanced, I'm in a space where I say yes to the little things that are life-giving (which is what's usually missing when I'm unbalanced!)
So, it's about making sure I'm in a position to say the little "yes"s that lead me into life and peace - like going for a swim, or reading a book, or seeing friends.
At the moment I'm on holidays so am facing the opposite kind of unbalance and will be happy to return to the regularity, joy and accountability of community life!

Susan Rose Francois, CSJP said...

Thanks for the comments everyone! Such great (and honest) insights ...