This week of the Autumnal Equinox, my thoughts, as usual, turn to those of balance. The sun has returned once more to the San Francisco Bay, vanquishing the fog to bring our usual days of heat before the winter rains begin. Everything basks in this golden gaze, including the homeless men and women sleeping on wooden benches under the potted roses yesterday as I swept the concrete free of cigarette butts and bits of paper napkin. Washing an industrial sized salad bowl, I asked myself what is it about balance that intrigues me. Being a child of autumn, who holds the scales, this question has been with me my whole life. Something deep inside my skin appreciates the equalization of night and day, and the way light changes on the leaves of trees this particular time of year. Seeking balance is my natural state.
Yet, through years of study, spiritual practice, and deepening, I have come to understand that balance is not a static thing. It includes movement, to and fro. I have to recognize that my current viewpoint is not necessarily an underlying reality.
750,000 Somalians are likely to starve to death this season. 750,000. That number has been with me a lot lately. They will starve for many reasons, but mostly because of the hubris and greed of local war lords who love the inflating sense of false power far more than they love humanity. When I look at this number, I can only think, “The world is out of balance.” It certainly seems so. Yet I have to recall that my view is small. I have to remember that my neighbor practices piano daily, and that animals find ways to adapt, and that people are not only bent upon killing one another, we are also going out of our ways to help, to heal, to stand for justice, and to stand for love. The state of Georgia is killing Troy Davis today. As a balancing act, thousands have marched, written, prayed, and cried out. Will he die? As of this writing, it seems likely. I mourn for a country who could kill a man with no evidence of his guilt, and I also feel the energy of all those who have worked so hard to save him, to save one person in a sea of many. We are trying to right the scales of justice.
Balance is a precarious thing. It cannot remain in one place, it shifts on more axes then we can even fathom. Working at the soup kitchen yesterday, I asked myself what helps me adjust the balance. The first part of the equation is of course my spiritual and religious practices. I must daily find the center of my soul and try to move from that place. But the next part of the equation feels just as important: for me, service is the act that rebalances the world. When we offer service, we say to the world, “We are here. We are present with you. We have something to give, just as sometimes we need to receive. We cannot help the starving millions, or stop a war in a distant land, but we can do this one thing. We are committed to doing this one thing. We will do this thing today.”
In Morningstar Mystery School, we have a ritual protocol that includes these words: “We remember. We practice. We serve.” These words come with no explanation. They are seeds within our consciousness that will grow and flower over time. It is my hope that as the seasons turn, they will teach us is how to rebalance our hearts, our actions, our lives, and our world.
Balancing requires a fulcrum, discernment, and some action. When I try to keep things too steady, the balance always turns in counterpoint. We get thrown off kilter, and we learn. At least, that is how it works for me.
May this equinox-tide bring you love, good harvest, a moment of balance, and a way through.
Troy Davis was executed and pronounced dead at 11:08pm EDT, Sept 21, 2011. My sidewalk memorial. What is remembered, lives.