I’ve been thinking a lot about balance these days.
Several years ago I was introduced to poet Mary Oliver and find her inspiring, insightful, and just plain right most of the time. (I introduced her to this space last December.) Her entry into human emotion and experience is often through the natural world, a language I understand better than most. Last year without much explanation, I shared this line of prose from Blue Pastures:
All my life and it has not come to any more than this: beauty and terror.
Especially on a day like today when the winds are whipping outside my window and the fire risk is relatively high, beauty and terror in nature are easy to wrap my head around. Fire can heal or re-ignite an ecosystem through destruction. The food chain in the natural world is another example: owls and mice, cougars and deer, bugs and plants. Beauty and terror.
My experience with transition, joy, grief, new jobs and spaces and schools, relationships (new and ongoing), and communities and organizations all speak to this balance between beauty and terror. Very little in life is all good or all bad; instead, we are invited to live into and honor the entirety of life in order to live more authentically. This is evident in nature, certainly. But my experience is that it is evident in human life as well.
Come December (if he waits), our family will be joined by another baby boy. The transition from stay-at-home parenting to working mother two years ago was full of beauty and terror, excitement and fear. And this pregnancy has been a constant and wonderful reminder of the challenge of striking balance as well: I am re-learning how to honor myself, my family, my community, and my job as authentically as I am able.
Organizationally, over the last few months, staff and board members (with survey input from many of you!) have been working toward establishing a new vision for the future of Camp Stevens. Moving forward, dreaming, and embracing idealism while holding up and celebrating the roots of Camp Stevens and remembering limitations and practicality has certainly been a process of finding balance.
As a final example, Camp Stevens has the unique opportunity to serve people with a variety of stories. While it is impossible to be all things to all people, we do strive to welcome all. Balancing the needs and desires of our campers, staff, and guests with our organizational mission and Episcopal identity is an exciting endeavor, to say the least!
I (and you, I’m confident) could go on. Beauty and terror. Inspiration in nature. Searching for balance while honoring the whole picture. Being authentic.
What does Mary Oliver’s contrast of beauty and terror strike in you?
Whim: “sudden idea.” This monthly post promises a number of things: personal thoughts and reflections, showing off Camp Stevens’ programs and staff, announcements for upcoming opportunities, and answering questions or responding to comments “from the audience.” If you have a topic or question you’d like addressed, just e-mail Beth!