Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Balcony Time

One of the things we enjoy in our new house is the front balcony on the second floor. From there we watch the rain or the snow fall, wait for the northern lights, admire the views and observe what's going on in the neighborhood. Our older son loves how he can wave and say "hi" to friends who are passing by.

For those who have started following this blog, last week I said that I was not posting but was spending time in the balcony. "Going up to the balcony" has been used as a metaphor for stepping back to assess an issue or a situation from an "unengaged" position. It means taking time to reflect, think and process before acting or reacting to the issue or situation at hand. Because most of the time, our emotions get the better of us and cloud our judgement. Many times, we act and react poorly because we were impulsive.

It's like giving yourself a timeout. When you're in a heated discussion that's going nowhere at a meeting, it may be as simple as leaning back from the table for a moment and observing. When you get an email that really agitates you, it may mean resisting the urge to respond and letting it sit for a while. I've sometimes done this and its amazing what details I find when I re-read an email with a clearer mind and calmer spirit. After balcony time, a nasty email doesn't sound so bad.

I love running because it allows me to spend time in the balcony. When I am out on the trails, I am forced to "disengage". And when I am alone with my thoughts, I am able to process things and see issues clearly. After a long day at work, it is helpful for me to lace up my shoes and go for a run, not so much to clear my mind than to organize them in a way that's not chaotic and overwhelming. Many times, after a run, I am able to work through a conflict situation and able to come up with a course of action. I am able to understand the other person's point of view. I am able to flesh-out disjointed ideas and concepts into an organized plan. Many sermons I've preached came together while I was running. Many times, I've gone out on a run all stressed out and overwhelmed but have come back calm and composed. The time in the balcony helps me see things as they are, not as I initially perceived them to be.

In the gospels, we read of Jesus' habit of going to a solitary place regularly. Yes, he was praying. But I believe he was also spending time in the balcony, reflecting on and assessing the situation from an "unengaged" position. In Mark 1:35-39, we read of Jesus' change of plans after stepping back and looking at the bigger picture.

It pays to be decisive. But decisive does not mean impulsive. May we take time to sit or stand in the balcony more often. There are many concerns and issues that confront us today as the body of Christ. We need to respond and respond in a way that God would have us respond. And for that we need to spend time in the balcony so that we are not impulsive but decisive.

Your fellow disciple,

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