WES Blog — Balancing Our Themes…and Our Lives

As you’ve probably (hopefully!) noticed, we use monthly themes here at WES. We choose the themes as part of a consortium of congregations (both UU and other Ethical Societies), which means that we get access to all kinds of resources from the national organizers. A lot of that shows up in what we call the “theme packet,” which is available each month on our website. Many of our Deepening Circles (small groups that meet over the course of a year) and Deepening Conversations (drop-in small groups between platforms on the 2nd and 4th Sunday of the month) use those theme packets as a basis for their conversation, and I know some of you use them at home, too, just as a source for poetry or music or movies that reflect what we’re talking about as a community.

I really like the themes, because they give a shape to the month–even though we might have platforms that address a specific topic, or that celebrate a particular festival, we try to do so with a bit of a nod toward that theme. And they help us on staff collaborate together across programming areas. We’re always looking for ways to deepen the experience, and always eager to hear your thoughts about that.

What can be really cool is when one month’s theme actually seems to lead into the next month’s. I’ve been thinking about that recently, as I reflect on the All Music Sunday at the end of February, which finished up the theme of Perseverance. Bailey, our Music Director, began that platform with a beautiful quote about being in a chorus or a band, when you’re asked to sustain a note longer than you really can…and so everyone takes turns breathing, keeping the sound continuous. That day, is was about how we rely on each other to persevere together, as a team.

But it strikes me today that it’s also about Balance, our theme for March. In fact, all of making music is about balance, perhaps. The way that instruments share a melody between them, or the way you need the big sound of a tuba and also the little sound of a piccolo. I’m a pianist, and my favorite music to play are J.S. Bach’s Inventions. I remember learning the balance between the hands, how to notice when the main musical line shifted from right to left, the need for the second line to be present–but not too present–as the first one continued. Get it just a little bit off, and you end up sounding clunky. Manage the balance just right, and it’s sublime. I manage sublime about 5% of the time.

That’s like life, too. My balance–between job and family, or between work and play, or between engagement and silence–is sublime about 5% of the time. The rest of the time I feel like it’s too much of one thing and not enough of another. Maybe your life is like that too, missing perfect balance over and over again. I’m going to keep in mind that band, where we breathe for each other, where we trade the melody line, where it takes all of us–both our hands, every instrument–to make the kind of music we want.

Maybe the only way to achieve true balance is together.