A life in balance is a life of peace.
Benedict of Nursia endures as a model for leading a balanced, harmonious life. In his Rule for monastics, he outlines principles that are relevant today, no matter that we live far beyond the cloister.
Sr. Jane Michele McClure writes that Benedict “envisioned a balanced life of prayer and work as the ideal. Monastics would spend time in prayer so as to discover why they’re working, and would spend time in work so that good order and harmony would prevail … Benedictines should not be consumed by work, nor should they spend so much time in prayer that responsibilities are neglected. According to Benedict, all things-eating, drinking, sleeping, reading, working, and praying-should be done in moderation.”
In Wisdom Distilled from the Daily , Sr. Joan Chittister writes that in Benedict’s Rule, “All must be given its due, but only its due.”
Chittister’s wisdom applies to excess as much as it does restriction.
There is a lot of clamor for us to curb our over-indulgences, from the simple Netflix binge of our favorite series to our homes which are overflowing with things we do not use.
Yet, not much is said to encourage leveling out all the ways we restrict ourselves, often of joy, happiness, love, affection or self-acceptance. Often, we compensate for our restrictions by overdoing in other areas that don’t matter as much to our hearts and souls.
Benedict, as interpreted by Chittister, holds up a better way: There should be something of everything and not too much of anything.
Achieving balance is like the effort to stand upright on a ship as it plows through waves. We are required to make continual adjustments with our bodies. If we hold ourselves rigidly, we are likely to overcompensate when passing through a large wave and may harm ourselves. Instead, strength, flexibility and a willingness to adapt to ever-changing conditions supports our balance.
Peace — and balance — to you!