Finding the right balance is certainly difficult, though I’ve been playing the juggler long enough, I suppose, that I take a certain delight in moving, as efficiently and skillfully as possible, between my university teaching and my writing and publishing commitments. As you rightly noted, there’s undoubtedly a danger, especially when we’re busy and pressed for time, of losing ourselves in the “outward whirl of thoughts and actions”. On the other hand, if we endeavor to guard our hearts and to be as attentive as possible to our inward states as we enter into this potentially dispersive flow of forces, it’s sometimes possible to use the swirling current and the pressures of time against themselves.

Of course, in order to do this we have to know when enough is enough, when it’s time to pull back from outward responsibilities and return to the “one thing needful”. This knowledge—not merely of a theoretical order, but rooted in the very texture or substance of daily prayer and meditation—comes in turn from our efforts, our repeated efforts, to effect a corresponding “pull-back” from interior distractions. And please note that it’s the pulling back itself, the effort to resist all centrifugal ideation and emotion, which is the key to our interior work, and not—or not at least only—the admittedly more satisfying state of relative repose we occasionally find ourselves enjoying when that retrieval has been momentarily successful.

Such at any rate has been my own, admittedly limited, experience.