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Busy ... and balanced

Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life

In recent weeks, two busy people who really enjoy their work - a journalist with a deep love of music, and a professional musician who loves words deeply - have been exchanging e-mail messages on how they are coping with their "busyness." They've agreed to let us publish excerpts from their correspondence. We hope you're not too busy to sample them!

HE: Isn't it great to enjoy the Super Bowl or a Gail Godwin novel as much as you do Haydn's "Creation"? The downside is that you can easily feel overwhelmed by the breadth of your interests. How do you fit it all in?

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SHE: For me, it's a matter of constantly making choices. Sometimes I wish I could see as much order in my life as I found in the Bach sonata I performed last week.

HE: Our lives can become like an after-work supermarket expedition, hurtling from aisle to aisle and shelf to shelf, clutching an illegible shopping list. How easy it is to live life by the rule that says the more trivial the task, the greater the velocity required. Are we destined to simply endure an accelerating pace and cope the best we can?

SHE: Recently, as I was leaving for a rehearsal, I reached into the freezer to grab a piece of bread to make a sandwich to eat on the way. I spilled a plastic container of frozen blueberries all over my newly cleaned kitchen floor.

I smiled and said to myself, "Next time, I'll move a little more slowly." I figured the blueberries could be rinsed off before going into the muffins the following week, so I picked each one up and put them all in a zip-lock bag - still smiling. The joy of music and the love of family were so prominent in my thought at that moment, that there was no room for annoyance or rushing.

What makes the difference is not how filled our schedule is (within reason), but how peaceful our thought is. Inner calm is really a gift from God. With this insight, it was thrilling that the rehearsal that day was right "in the zone," and my work became a form of praise. I might add that, ultimately, the muffins were delicious!

HE: In striving for peace, I suspect we have to go even beyond the current yearning for the "simpler life," whereby we swap road rage and city smog for that dream island.

What we need is the "perfect peace" that Jesus experienced during his busy and often turbulent times, and which he assured us could also be ours if we really trusted God (see Isa. 26:3). He had an unshakable conviction that God governs His creation harmoniously. No anxiety. No frustration. No pressure.

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SHE: I'm reminded of an occasion when one of our daughters was about 10, and she asked if she could add another set of extramural lessons to an already full schedule. I said I'd think about it, but I didn't want her to have too much pressure. I'll never forget the sparkling little face that looked back at me and said, "But I love pressure!"

I realized she wasn't talking about the pressure we know as adults, but about the thrill of working enthusiastically toward one's full potential. As I maintain my active schedules, it's helpful to have quiet periods during the day - opportunities to feel close to God and to be grateful.

HE: The Bible confirms that gratitude was at the heart of Jesus' prayers. We know that despite extraordinary demands on his time, he took frequent prayer breaks. He acknowledged God's presence and power, and remained serene and poised. We can do this, too, and expect tangible improvement in our lives - less tension, more efficiency and acumen.

SHE: When we maintain that peace within, we move toward an ideal balance. We can play life's concert at a brisk tempo and still retain our joy. By lifting everything to a higher level than mere human activity, we glorify God.

HE: I'm convinced that it's through a better understanding of God's constant care that we discover "perfect peace" right where we are - now.

We have nothing to fear when

Love is at the helm of thought, but everything to enjoy on earth

and in heaven.

Mary Baker Eddy

(founder of the Monitor)

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor