Monday, March 15, 2010

Balancing the Scales

My husband just handed me a brownie. This is probably the last thing I need to eat. Alas, brownies are not the same when made with celery or other healthy things. They really are the best with chocolate and, in my opinion, nuts. I’m not picky though. I’ll eat brownies without nuts. I’ll eat them with whipped cream. I’ll eat them with ice cream. I’ll eat them with powdered sugar or chocolate icing. I’m an egalitarian brownie eater. And brownies are seldom a matter of need. If they were, I’m sure I would be deemed to have already eaten my lifetime quota.

And I was just thinking about weights and scales when he walked in too. Now I’m thinking about the one you step on. I don’t mind that scale so much except when they have it programmed to laugh or groan when you step on it. I think mine would make strangled little squeaks right now. I’m going to have to do something about that. Soon. After I finish this brownie anyway.

Several cards talk about aspects of balance, like the 2 of Coins being juggled in a day-to-day balance of your checkbook or keeping all the balls in the air sort of way. Or Temperance calmly pouring one cup into another, blending, mixing, balancing, evening, smoothing, soothing. But Justice has the scales on it that I had in mind today.

Justice is sometimes shown as Anubis weighing the heart against a feather. That tells part of a story, the part that presumes that the heart’s owner has a conscience that would actually weigh the heart down if it felt “heavy-hearted” with grief, remorse, guilt, or sorrow. But we are aware that there are those who perhaps ought to feel weighed down with remorse, in need of atonement, who do not feel the slightest burden of guilt. If you are so burdened, however, it will do you a world of good to do something to make up for it. If you aren’t, please turn yourself in to the nearest authorities so they can assist you.

It’s not an easy thing to do, to live without guilt over something, if blessed with a conscience at all. The decisions we make every day are not always easy. Paper or plastic? Was the paper bag made of trees that we need to stop cutting down so we can still have life forms that take our carbon dioxide and give off oxygen? Was the plastic made of oil that is limited by the number of little sea critters squashed between layers of rocks? Accept one, does an owl die? Accept another, does an oil spill kill a shoreline? Accept one or the other, who gets to keep their jobs? Being mindful is no easy task. Giving up on being mindful is cowardly.

Even the little hummingbird nesting among the thorns of a rosebush, sitting on the two eggs about to hatch has to make choices, to weigh the dangers against the benefits. A few minutes ago, the hummingbird chose to stay on the nest of two eggs while someone walked by, got into a car, started it and drove away. If you want to see the eggs hatching, better check this out fast:

*Note:  link updated because someone rude hacked the original link.

Even the nest itself is an example of balance. Leftover twigs, feathers, spider webs and leaves have to go somewhere. It sits perched in the new growth of the rose, anchored on thorns and stems, dappled in sunlight, swaying in the breeze. It is a balance of the softest of beds for new life and a sturdy foundation for the sometimes sudden landing of the parent bird, a fortress of string and feathers to protect and cushion new life.

One of the more satisfying aspects of Justice is that karma kickback that we hope our oppressors will get and we say, “Ah, what goes around comes around!” This is anything from rewards and punishments in an afterlife to my pagan buddies Kathy and Jeani saying that what you send out comes back at you many times the intensity. Both ideas are meant to say, “Please think about it and be mindful.”

So right now, Paul Brewer, wherever you are, I need to tell you that I’m really, really sorry I spit water clear across the classroom in 5th grade and hit you in the ear while Sister Goretti had her back turned. At the time, I confess, I got immense satisfaction out of the beauty of the arc of that stream of water as it went from the south wall to the north wall where you sat by the windows. I reveled in how you clapped your hand to your ear and the look of complete surprise on your face. I wriggled in satisfaction that I may have been the least likely candidate to have done such a thing. And I promise I’ll never do it again. Just so you know, while I was trying to qualify as a lifeguard in high school, I suffered my own water-borne affront that you never knew about. Three distinctly separate bathing suits fell apart while I wore them, one by one, in a single day in front of the local town lifeguard-god. Dive. Rip. Dive. Rip. Dive. And, you guessed it. Rip. I left the public pool in humiliation and never qualified for that lifeguard status.

The truth is that we don’t always get to see what’s on the other half of the scale or the timing of its landing there. And doesn’t it leave you hanging? Well, Paul, you need to know that karma kicked back.

So often we may consider ourselves the recipient of Justice, or not, that we forget about its other aspects. In the RWS tarot, unlike our model for the legal system, Justice is not blindfolded but sits above with scales and sword to achieve balance. The sword says the process of achieving that balance is a logical one, one that may or may not be in your subjective favor. The scales say that there is a corresponding side to everything. The scales are empty because, in my opinion, we don’t always know the whole story and probably aren’t meant to. Justice, on its throne of power and in its robes of authority, is a power greater than us, longer than our time frames, more important in the scheme of things than our needs and wants as individuals. And yet, Justice also echoes the Magician’s stance, with the sword of logic pointing upwards instead of the magic wand and the scales held in the downward hand. Justice’s “as above, so below” says we may send our thoughts and logic quickly, especially in a conflict, but the effect will always be a balancing out. Are we prepared to face the sword of truth and logic and let the scales balance objectively?

And finally, instead of being the recipients of Justice with a good outcome on our side, we have to think of ourselves as the dispensers of Justice too. How do we make the best decision when we know we don’t have all the facts? We must do so with all the responsibilities of a ruler, knowing the effects of the decision may set a precedent for things to come, knowing that the decision may be viewed by all. We may not see all the outcomes but we take our actions as fairly as possible. The scales, once balanced, are never fixed in place. Why? Because what’s behind the curtain draped between the pillars may someday reveal more evidence. And that could change everything.

I can’t help but think there is a Divine Sense of Humor that has made it possible for me to get a million well-meant but annoying chain emails in exchange for one overly optimistic greeting sent out. Have a SUPER nice day! Really. And now, I have a brownie to atone for.

Best wishes.

1 comment:

  1. Just in case you can't get to the hummingbird nest from the link I posted, here's another path.