I feel like I’ve been living in a world of dichotomies recently, trying to find balance between two opposite ends of the spectrum: behaviorism and humanism, fear and love, dark and light. Learning to live within the wholeness of humanity. It’s an interesting place to be.
My mom and I have a very slowly growing list of the “nicest” people in the world. These are those people who have an amazing, gentle spirit, who seemingly without effort demonstrate unconditional love to all they meet. I think, although I haven’t run this by the list’s co-creator yet, they have found balance. The list includes my kindergarten teacher, a woman I babysat for, and my great-grandmother (There are a few others, but I can’t remember them.).
Greatmamaw was my dad’s grandmother. She was married to a railroad conductor/engineer. He was one of two great-grandparents I never met. She raised 3 children, my grandmother being the youngest. She had 2 grandsons and 3 great-grandchildren. I remember looking up to her inviting smile and warm hugs. Even as I type, I’m wrapped up in a quilt she made. At times, she was so convincing she colluded with Grandmother, my Mom’s maternal grandmother and the strictest of them all, to sneak me a hand full of chocolates when I had obstinately refused my expensive dinner at The Martha Washington Inn.
The entire time I knew her she lived in a long-term care facility for older adults. Part of that time she was living independently, and after a series of strokes that left her paralyzed, she was moved to nursing care. Despite her inability to smile with her mouth, her eyes continued to welcome us as we entered her room. She filled her days with sewing and crafts. No little piece of fabric went to waste (I have two quilts downstairs made from my great-grandfather’s old suits.). She spent time with friends and was always filled with joy! She had learned how to find the balance.
Here’s the interesting about dichotomies, though: One can’t exist without the other. Shadows can’t exist without the light to cast them. Jesus called himself the light of the world and called us to be the same. As we grow into that light, we will cast shadows. They might be our own that follow us for a while, or maybe they are recognitions of injustices toward creation rooted in fear. This is where finding the balance comes. We can walk into the shadow, get lost in the dark or recognize the light that has cast the shadow, remembering all the while that as long as a shadow exists, there is always light.
I don’t know if Greatmamaw had a similar struggle (but there have been plenty of times when I wish she kept journals). It’s a bit hard to imagine. This balancing seemed to come so naturally for her whereas for me, it’s not much more than a balancing act.