chewingShanti Nagel

A Balancing Act

chewingShanti Nagel
A Balancing Act

Did you notice that the earth is in balance? It’s the autumn equinox. The days and nights are equal. It is officially fall. Of course, if you are like me you are more likely to notice that you are out of milk or that your car is buried in cast off debris.

The last hurrah is now proclaimed in my garden: clown-like pumpkins, crimson tomatoes, flowers crumbling brightly. It seems that everything is dying until I look again and see the seeds. They are everywhere – acorns lining squirrels nests, burrs hitching a ride, sunflowers filled with spiraling bounty. It is the promise of new life, side by side with death. Maybe that is what the earth in balance means.

This is the time of Michaelmas, when St. Michael, leading the host of angels, battled the fire-breathing dragon and thus saved us from evil.

In the Jewish faith the Days of Awe were just celebrated. First is the New Year when our names are transcribed in the book of life. By performing acts of repentance, prayer, and good deeds you can change your decree until Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, when the book is sealed for another year. After 600 years of practice there is bound to be some clues about balance here.

And as if it could get any better we had a magical, crimson moon that came at the end of a beautiful autumn weekend to remind us that mystery and wonder are still within reach… or at least within view.

Buddhists believe in the middle way and celebrate inner harmony at the equinox. The monk Kawabe says, “The time between darkness and light is the time when all Buddhas attain Buddhahood.”  Reportedly, this often occurs on the equinox. (anyone ready this autumn?)

In my daily life I find balance to be a rather challenging concept. Let me give you an example: last week I was rushing. Nothing new, I know, but this day started off wrong. I overslept, spilled a glass of orange juice, and found my office keys had gone missing. At work, my appointments were double scheduled and to top it off I had dressed in the morning chill and by mid-day it was really hot. I was bedraggled and discouraged: definitely NOT balanced.

It’s reminds me of fourth grade when I was on the seesaw poised in mid-air. My best friend, Joanne and I had gotten it just right…we were exactly even. It felt so good. I raised my hands triumphant and let out a whoop. But even at that moment of exultation I knew it was over. I would soon be thrust high in the sky clinging precariously to the handlebar or even worse, dropped down to the dusty earth. What I didn’t know was how little things would change more than 40 years later. I am still on a seesaw searching for that moment of balance. 

So I remind myself to breathe deeply, ahhh, and exult in our mother earth’s equinox as she hangs so exquisitely in the balance. Perhaps some of her balance will rub off on me. Maybe by eliminating a little fear and frenzy and welcoming in gratitude I can perch once more on the seesaw of life. This time I’ll be sure to take in the view… knowing it will not last.