It's the weekend. I got in late tonight from a meeting at Molbaks, a perfect place to fill eye and heart with natural beauty. I'm taking time off from my job before Christmas to write papers due months ago.
When I need balance, one of my favorite books is Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way. I haven't played with art for over a year. The book uses kind language to smack the self-indulgent and overworked: "If you aren't getting enough hours of sleep, you can do something about that. If you're not creating and taking time for yourself, it's up to you. Life's balance is your own choice."
Ok, then. Being in England a few weeks ago reminded me how fit we used to be when we lived there, walking or cycling for miles, eating healthy home-cooked meals, visiting with people nearly every day, and living in a community of scholars and their families. The message of self-accountability for health and happiness got through over the Thanksgiving weekend.
Thursday, we ate a delicious feast with friends who have become family through our son's wise choice of a bride. We flew to Edmonton the next morning, where our only expectation was to cherish my widowed brother and his children, and to grieve with my sis-in-law's family who had come to mourn their loss. It was bliss to be with family and friends. Everyone brought their gifts - music, cooking, sitting, memories, dancing, laughter, sorrow - we were "just ourselves" to enjoy each others company.
Between tears, rituals, and condolences, the days filled with all the things I love about my family: supporting each other in difficult circumstances as part of life's journey; an acceptance of and interest in people with different traditions; the embrace of those who come near; and the mystery of God's love for us all.
W and I came home in the early morning hours of Monday after a flight and two hour drive. Still, I was relaxed and renewed when I woke, full of the precious gift of feeling loved, not for what we do, but because we are family. Seeing my brothers again reminded me of our shared past, of growing up into the future together, and of our dreams for our children who are adults with defining interests.
In such acceptance, my heart opened and began to tilt back to center. A balanced life means work does not define us, whether on the job, in church, or elsewhere. Our delight and satisfaction comes from knowing God and drawing close to him. From bringing others with us into his circle of peace and comfort.
These next days will be hard academic work, but I'm expecting to enjoy the change of pace. I occasionally miss being home during the day, seeing the aquarium lights flash on, the sun rise to peer into our windows through the forest branches, and exercising in our garage swim spa before breakfast.
To everything there is a season. This one may be full of books and paper. Supported by the kindness of my tribe. And bathed in prayers for my brother and his family.