Balance and Brokenness

We are moving into March, and our themes for this month are the linked elements of Balance and Brokenness. The examples of brokenness seem everywhere we look now, as much in our nation and our government as in our own local systems – and even now and then in ourselves.

I remember how hard it was for me to learn, when I was a skinny little girl, a special running mount onto the balance beam in gymnastics. I always dreaded gymnastics. Flipping my body around on the high uneven bar petrified me. I felt awkward and unwieldy on the vault. My floor routine repertoire was pretty much cartwheels and pointed-toe stepping – boring even to me. I didn’t even understand how gymnastics came into our program. All of a sudden, it seemed, there it was. And, mysteriously, all the kids around me somehow knew how to do stuff, even fancy stuff, and weren’t afraid of anything – or so it seemed to me. I felt mystified and alone almost all the time.

Except for the balance beam – that, somehow, I could handle. Not like I was doing walkovers on the beam or anything – but nor was anyone else, at least not at the elementary school I went to. So the beam became my friend. I learned to walk on it and feel pretty confident. I could do those dip steps without a wobble. I could turn on one foot or two. But my best move was my mount. I would run up to the side of the beam, bounce off the board with a jump and land on the beam in a split. Then I’d turn sideways, swing my legs and drive them up behind me so I ended up in a crouch, and rise gracefully from there. It was a hard mount, and somehow, I was willing to do the work to learn it. Stretching until I could do a pretty flat split. Practicing my jump and bounce and landing. It didn’t scare me; all it took was a lot of work on flexibility and balance.

I think back on that now, and it feels like a lesson to remember these days. With everything that’s assailing us in politics and climate change and culture wars, it’s hard to find and keep our balance. Maybe that’s not always a bad thing, maybe we need to learn to steady ourselves on new ground in new ways. But if so, it will surely require practice, and lots of work on flexibility and balance.

I’m working on keeping that in mind as I strive for my own equilibrium lately. I offer it in case it’s of use to you as well. We don’t always get, in life, to choose the equipment we have to work with. But if we put in the time, and put attention into our footing, our timing, our readiness for what moves and forms are required, we will gain flexibility, and our balance will improve, which means that no matter what our footing, our balance will be better.

See you in church,

Rev. Liz Lerner Maclay, Minister
Office Hours: Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday