Equilibrium: – a state of rest or balance due to the equal action of opposing forces
Equilibrium. We use it to describe balance in market forces, to define that equal point in opposing powers and influence. However with the exception of those times when we lose our equanimity we don’t use it in reference to our own lives. But it does imply a life of sustainability, a life of balance. It’s when our output is balanced by our input. When our work is balanced by our times of rest. It means no matter what we’re doing we’re living from a place of rest.
Everyone’s point of equilibrium is different. And what is input into one’s life for one person could be considered output for another. Input is about doing something that nourishes your soul and lifts your spirit. Rest for me is a cup of coffee and a good book. Rest for a friend is a 10 kilometre run…even when it rains!
It’s about finding your rhythm – the pace of life that works for you. Equilibrium is also about being true to the season that you are in and embracing it. With a little baby in the house my season involves nights at home and days that revolve around his naps and feed times. It’s school runs and marmite sandwiches and standing on the sidelines for cross country runs. So I have my nappy bag and an umbrella (for the sidelines!). I also have my local café for the coffee fix!
Sometimes we need to take that step back, recalibrate perhaps, and ensure that our life is in balance. That we are indeed living in equilibrium.
The roads were busy. Road works seemingly everywhere. Everything just felt busy. People driving to work, to appointments, to coffee, to wherever. My to do list felt as long as the traffic queued in front of me. The city was alive, on the go, and yes busy.
Yet in a central suburb is an oasis, a different world. A park, a farm. Where new lambs had been born and daffodils were tilting their faces to the sun. Where people gathered and lingered over coffee, or went for a stroll or just simply sat in the sun. In amongst the busyness it was a place of serenity, of peace. A space away from the noise and urgency of the city that lay outside its stone walls.
Life is busy. There’s always something to be done, an email to be sent, someone to call, an appointment to make, chores to be done. But in amongst this busyness we all need a stone wall behind which there is a space to rest, to recharge. That counter balance to our work where we turn aside from our agendas and pressures. That place and time of quiet retreat to recenter our soul, to refresh our spirit.
That rest. That Sabbath.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
3pm. The school bell rings and children explode out of their classrooms headed for home. The school day is done. It’s a strong demarcation to their day. For most of us though we live without the clear delineation of work and rest. The work emails demanding attention can continue to come long after we have left the office, the washing begins to pile up as soon as we think we are on top of it. It can seem like we never stop.
But if we look a little closer we will see evidence of rituals of rest in our lives. It’s the putting on of the favourite sweatshirt that we never leave the house in. It’s the coffee out or the steaming mug of tea at home. It’s the cozying up on the couch with a good book or the duvet day. It’s even on the commute home when we can turn up the music we like loud. It’s us building a little margin in our lives.
From the beginning of time God has demonstrated to us the importance of rest. After creating the world, God created a rest day. Not because He needed it – He neither sleeps nor slumbers but because we need it. Jesus too, would withdraw from the crowds to rest. And even though there were pressing needs, He still made room to rest, and He accomplished all that He was meant to.
In this super charged, fast life that we live in, it goes against the grain in many ways to slow down, to carve out time for us to rest. To create margin for God. But it is in this space that we are refreshed. It is in this space that creativity, that growth in our lives flourishes. Busyness wars against our awareness of God. Rest brings us into His presence.
“The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” (Exodus 33:14)
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.” (Matthew 11:28-30, MSG Bible)
Fighting a migraine for several days and I was left exhausted. Physically, mentally, emotionally. I commented to my husband that it’s at these times that my mind is not kind to me. Thoughts of failure, guilt, discouragement seem to assail me and I have little energy to fight them away. I am vulnerable, tears come readily. Feeling like myself again seems elusive.
But then I remembered the words from the oh so well known Psalm 23 – “He restores my soul.”
“He restores my soul.” The literal translation is that God causes my life to return. To restore is to replenish, to return to its original state. Restoring my soul means that God gives the enjoyment of life back to me. My troubled, exhausted and wearied spirit is refreshed and filled with new joy. My mind is restored to its equilibrium. My soul can be and is restored by God.
How? The key lies in the first part of the verse – “He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters…”
Ah soul – find rest and peace with God. He’s in control and finds us the still waters, the green pastures.
The Lord is my pace-setter, I shall not rush
He makes me stop and rest for quiet intervals;
He provides me with images of stillness,
Which restore my serenity.
He leasds me in the way of efficiency
through calmness of mind and His guidance is peace.
Even though I have a great many things to accomplish each day.
I will not fret
For His presence is here
His timelessness, His all-importance will keep me in balance.
He prepares refreshment, His all-importance will keep me in balance.
He prepares refreshment and renewal in the midst of activity
by annointing my mind with His oils of tranquility.
My cup of joyous energy overflows.
Surely harmony and effectiveness shall be the fruits of my hours.
I shall walk in the pace of our Lord and dwell in His house forever.
(A paraphrase of Psalm 23 by Japanese Poet Toki Miyashin)
It’s official, adult colouring books in and are doing a roaring trade. Colouring books are the latest phenomonem and booksellers are consistently listing them in their top 10 bestsellers. They have even hit number one on Amazon. Gone are the days when you needed to apprehend your child’s colouring book for some time out (yes that would be me!), now you can own your own. Delightful options too, from Enchanted Forest to Secret Paris, even a Chanel Couture one.
The colouring books are apparently the latest weapon against stress. Indeed take up your crayons people! Taking time to colour in is about relieving stress, inspiring creativity and relaxing. It’s downtime, relaxing time. Health trend even, promoted for colouring your way to peace. Well for everyone that is except me! I must confess I leapt at the opportunity to have a grown up colouring book. I delighted in my newly acquired tools of the trade (aka colouring pencils). I enjoyed sitting colouring in with nothing more pressing to decide than which shade of green to use or which page to choose next.
But then somehow along the way, I lost that joy, that calm. I put pressure on myself to achieve, to complete! I’d finish work for the day, look at my watch and decide yes just enough time to get this page finished. Deadlines in my head started appearing and colouring was no longer relaxing but something to be included on my to-do list. I felt the need to make progress.
We can do the same with our walk with God. What is meant for our enjoyment and pleasure – reading the Bible, worship, prayer – we can sometimes reduce down to something to be ticked off our to-do list. We forget that the purpose, the intent of it in the first place is for relationship with God, something that we can enjoy. Spending time with someone who loves us. Instead we can find ourselves frustrated or demotivated when we get behind on our reading plans. It’s not about perfection or achievement in reading plans completed it is about relationship with the one who created us and loved us first.
Meanwhile, I’m taking a chill pill with the colouring in and remembering that this was meant for fun and enjoyment. I’m remembering too it doesn’t need to be perfect.