Last Friday, I attended the Ministry in Contemporary Culture Series: An American Theology of the Land at George Fox Evangelical Seminary. The presenters, most of whom were Native Americans, spoke on topics such as “The Story of This Land,” “The Sacred Hoop,” “Confronting American Dualism,” “American Spirituality and the Land,” “A Native American View of the Land,” and “A Native Perspective on Agriculture.” Although each presentation was different from the others, there was one underlying theme: living in harmony with . . .
A friend of mine got my attention when we were talking about the series. She mentioned that harmony is different from balance. We talk about needing balance in our lives. We want to balance work with play, alone time with social time, God time with distracted time, and whatever other things that we need to balance in our lives. Balance implies that things are weighted. Balance implies that there is a perfect point on the fulcrum. Move either way and the whole thing tilts up or down. Too much or too little on one side or the other and the whole thing is lopsided. To maintain balance requires constant maneuvering to stay on that perfect point.
Harmony is not balance. Harmony is . . . well, harmony. Like singing. All the differing voices join together. There is an agreed upon combination that makes a song. All the notes are connected to the other notes. Harmony suggests that all the parts of life are connected. There is no point, no stopping place to weigh in and get measured. Harmony includes everything. It is like a sphere in which everything swirls and mixes. Nothing is left out.
The Native American way is to live in harmony with Creator, with self, with others, and with creation. To the Hebrews, it is the Shalom way. And Jesus says it is the Kingdom way. It is the way of peace.