Part 3: Balance – What We Need to Grow, to Risk, to Enter the Holy

butterfly on thistle

Welcome to our Annual Summer Retreat, posted here as a mini-online retreat for you. As the woman at the well went at noon to be refreshed and gather water for the day, so we must return readily to our own Divine wellspring.  Our time together will provide an opportunity to drink fully from the well that is Benedictine Spirituality.

By Benedictine Sisters Mary Core and Stefanie MacDonald

Balance is a popular discussion topic. We crave work-life balance. Emotional balance. We balance plates in the air.

It’s tough to achieve balance, though, partly because – as living beings – we’re always growing and changing, knocking ourselves a little off balance every day.

Luke’s story of Mary and Martha illustrates another reason, as it shows the difference in human temperament, with one person drawn to contemplative life and the other drawn to ministry.

So, while we can’t exactly choose to be balanced – we can only to seek to achieve it – we can create an environment that supports it.


For Benedictines, the rhythm of our day forms a balanced environment. It doesn’t vary. We pray, we work, we pray, we work.

We hear the bells, we stop everything, we go to the chapel to pray. And return to work (or a meal, or leisure).

It’s a rhythm and environment that rights our uneven keels.

Our environments – that is, our personal experience of life, place, material belongings, family and friends – are only partly in our control, of course.

But to the extent that we can affect them, we must ask:

Are our environments enhancing or impeding our lives? Do they support our need for balance? Do they give us the space to grow, to risk, to enter the holy?

Achieving balance is fleeting. We are always adjusting to the new reality of now. Always walking a tightrope.

But establishing rhythms and supports – aspects of our environment – that we can rely on provides proportion to our lives.

It allows for our human frailty. It allows us to monitor who we are and what we are becoming.

It allows us the space we need to grow, to risk, to enter the holy.



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