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The great seer Maria Esperanza often taught that a crucial component in life is balance.

It is the key to so many things! It's a key to peace. It is a key to joy. It is a key to health. In the end, it is the key to happiness.

Take a look at what "balance" means.

It means not to go to any one extreme. It means to make sure you tend to all aspects of your life equally. It means not going too far -- overboard -- in anything!

Are you too complacent or too anxious? Are you a workaholic or lazy? Do you talk too little or too much? Do you love or are you over-attached?

Are you balanced in the way you parcel out your time? Do you spend as much time with your loved ones as on the computer or at work or in front of the television? Do you balance labor with rest, love with correction, physical attraction with spiritual love (going overboard in the physical way means lust)?

Often to balance means to find a middle ground (the crux of the fulcrum). There is a balance between wealth and poverty, nourishment and gluttony, inactivity and burning oneself out. Too much (or too little) of anything tends toward darkness. The devil is a man of extremes.

Note the scales of justice. Note the balanced way of saints. For balance, note the calm way of St. Joseph or Francis of Assisi.

Note too the teeter-totter: when one end is too heavy or too light, it doesn't go anywhere. On one seat a person is stuck to the ground while at the other a person is left up in the air.

With balance, on the other hand, there is movement that goes somewhere, that has meaning. With balance (which comes with discipline and prayer), we can do anything. We can accomplish the impossible. We can cross any chasm. Take a tight-rope walker: Isn't it amazing how a person can walk on a thin rope over a gorge or between skyscrapers  by practicing perfect balance?

Talk about the straight and narrow! When we have balance, we are eating the right things. We are following a balanced approach. This is why nutrition is so confused: researchers constantly seek to discover magical formulas to health (what is and is not healthy) when all they need is to ask God for the gift of balance. He will tell you what is good for you and in what proportion!

When we have balance, we have the full fruits of the Holy Spirit. It even helps with the cooking touch! The results of kitchen efforts possess an extra "something." Besides her other fantastic gifts and busy life (tending to endless visitors), Maria Esperanza found enough time to cook extraordinary meals, bake unusually tasty deserts, and make every single member of her family feel so close and special that they never wanted to leave her side (sometimes more than thirty would travel with her).

Cooking? Surely, this is also true with barbecue! When the Holy Spirit is present, we do anything good and everything well and anything delightful can happen. For balance, look to Jesus. He could stand in a boat because he had balance. He drank but he was no lush. He ate, but He also fasted. He admonished, but above all He loved. Everything multiplied around Him!

Often, we are attacked by darkness because we lack equilibrium. We're too narrow. We are too intent on one thing or another. We are obsessed. We tip the boat.

When we have balance, on the other hand, we're not extremists. We are not closed-minded. We are religious but open to all. We think before we talk. We are even-handed. We are not Pollyanna but neither are we negative.

For balance, look to the crossbars of the Cross. Prayer. Discipline. They can change your life. For when you have balance, the Holy Spirit surrounds you not only with well-being (an exquisite feeling) but also with His protection.

[resources: The Bridge To Heaven, The God of Miracles, and Father DeGrandis's books]

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