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Balance Your VirtuesSeptember 8, 2015
In our upcoming trip out of these islands, which have become our home, Dan and I have agreed to briefly come out of retirement to speak at conferences and facilitate some healing work with First Nations. It is work we love, so it is likely to empower us rather than drain us. We're praying and reflecting on what we, as elders, can share.
More than two and a half decades of writing about the Divine virtues, constantly studying and trying to live by them, I am still in awe of them. One reason is that there is always more to learn. I believe it is because they are the infinite qualities of God and of our souls, as we attempt to reflect the image and likeness of our Creator.
At a Virtues Project conference in Perth, Dan introduced the idea that the angels of virtue "fly in flocks". It has occurred to me that every virtue has companion virtues as well as balancing virtues. There are virtues that are like sisters, such as Kindness, Compassion, Consideration, and Caring; or Trust, Truthfulness, Trustworthiness, Honor and Honesty. It is also true that we can easily overdo a virtue if we do not balance it with another. To stand on our holy ground, we need one foot in one virtue and one foot in another.
For example, if we love too much, we can fall "head over heels in love." A local friend told me about her partner, "I love him so badly." She often suffers and weeps from needing his assurances of love, which he sees as unnecessary. "I'm still here, aren't I?" When we love someone "badly", it's all too easy to do bad things to get them and keep them, which is pretty toxic when mixed with jealousy and guilt. We lose our dignity and we lose ourselves. Been there and done that. Early in our marriage, I found that other women were "after" Dan, sent him secret notes on Valentine's Day, and looked at him with longing. I was very insecure and bitterly jealous. I also felt betrayed since supposedly, they were my friends. My constant need for reassurance was driving poor Dan nuts. I felt more and more unattractive, and I was! So, I prayed. "Lord, I can't live like this and neither can Dan. I can't find my Detachment. I need You to give it to me." To my amazement (and Dan's) the jealousy just stopped. I was no longer tormented, and once again he could see the woman he fell in love with, not the wild-eyed needy child fearing abandonment.
Loving someone too much isn't love. It's attachment. Poet and author Maya Angelou says, "True love is liberating. It sets us free." One of my favorite quotes from poet William Blake is, "He who bends to himself a joy, doth the winged life destroy, but he who kisses the joy as it flies, lives in eternity's sunrise." There have to be spaces between two lovers in order for attraction to remain strong. Love must be balanced by Independence. This is the secret of lasting happiness and steadfast love. Self-Respect is magnetic.
We will be addressing a Virtues Project Global Mentorship Conference just before Canadian Thanksgiving, and I've started thinking about what flock Thankfulness belongs to. I'm going to speak about Thankfulness, Gratitude, Appreciation, Grace and Contentment and how they are related. All of them are receptive virtues that attract bounty and prosperity. Perhaps their balancing virtues are Generosity, Service and Sacrifice. It is even more blessed to give than to receive.
Our research in the world's sacred texts reveals that if we develop just one virtue to the fullest extent possible for us, we attract and connect to all the virtues. So, it's simple. Pick one and give it your all. Then find its balancing virtue and life will be more joyous, more fulfilling than you can imagine.