Balancing Act


There’s no such thing as perfect balance – for human beings, anyway. Some Olympians or other world-class performers may be able to achieve perfection for a single routine, a crystalline moment. But we cannot live in an exactly balanced state. It’s always an active rebalancing, one step this way or that. It’s true with ethical decisions, lifestyle choices, and everyday activities.

And sometimes we get so off-kilter we crash, and have to start all over again.

Trees are more like us in this way. They all search for the sunlight and try to grow straight, but a lot depends on their inner substance and immediate surroundings. We live on a hill in the midst of 100-year-old oaks and tall pines. Between and hill and an overarching canopy, young trees do the best they can. We have thinned out some faster-growing pines so they won’t overtake the oaks fifty years from now, but still (just like with people), growing straight and tall is an lifelong art.

And sometimes there are catastrophes, like a giant limb or tree trunk crashing down on its neighbors. (This is true for people, too.) That’s when perfect balance is the hardest. In that situation, balance is not even desired. In order to sort out the chaos and support life in the community, the broken limb needs to come all the way down, instead of dangling evenly in midair. That’s the only way new growth is possible, so that tree and the woods can live again.

Your partner in ministry,

Betsy Schwarzentraub


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