We’ve been traveling a lot this year: France with a group of 16 “pilgrims” in October/November 2008; Hot Springs, Arkansas for a Christmas week just with my husband and myself; Phoenix in February 2009 for a working trip with my eldest son and a visit with the “Phoenix” grand kids; three weeks in Kenya in March 2009 for filming regarding the Global Bag Project; two weeks cruising up the Eastern Seaboard and down the New England Coast with grand kids; a week at our annual Shakespeare Festival in Ontario, Canada with 22 friends who are theatre aficionados; a week in the British Virgin Islands as guests of our son-in-law’s parents; then David (without me—thank God) taking off for Kenya for more filming!
I keep hearing myself saying, “I’m not home long enough to get into any rhythm.” This morning, while talk with my adult daughter on the phone, she said exactly the same thing, “I keep getting interrupted so frequently, I can’t strike a rhythm.
It seems to me that, without knowing it, many of us are trying establish some kind of cycling regularity in our days, our weeks, our months, even in our years. We need this outward harmony in order to protect and nurture an inward harmony.
Intriguingly, Christianity is really built on establishing these kinds of rhythms—I time, in daily living, in devotional life, in our worship and friendship. There is a kind of sacred dance available for all of us who feel “out-of-step” in this disjointed world with its scary multitasking responsibilities. Many of my friends, sincere Christian women, comment on this in our Hungry Souls Listening Groups. They say, “I can’t catch my breath, I’m so busy.” “The world (the pace, the schedules) are moving so fast.” “The demands are so daunting.” They are expressing this feeling of not being able to get back into some kind of rhythm.
So let’s examine the “dance” that is life and see if we can discover any ways to be more “in step” with it. Let’s begin with reading Scripture. Many of us fail in keeping a rhythm regarding this primary tool that grows our Christian lives.
One book that has revolutionized my approach to prayer integrated with Scripture is The Word Is Very Near You: A Guide to Praying With Scripture by Martin L. Smith. I highly recommend it. Let me begin “dance classes” with two quotes taken from the book.
“It is one thing to say that prayer is a conversation with God. It is another thing to say that God begins the conversation. But it is yet something else to say that God is a conversation. … Our prayer is not making conversation with God. It is joining the conversation that is already going on in God. It is being invited to participate in the relationships of intimacy between father, Son and Holy Spirit. There is an eternal dance already in full swing, and we are caught up in to it. Prayer is allowing ourselves to join the dance and experience the movements, the constant interplay of the Persons of the Trinity.”
“In what follows we shall concentrate on the single issue of incorporating into our lives a rhythm of meditative prayer. I find the word ‘rhythm’ attractive. For some people the word ‘discipline’ has overtones of unyielding regulation and stern subjection of spontaneity, but rhythm belongs to all organic life. Without rhythm there is no beauty; without rhythm there is chaos. Unless we take responsibility for the patterning of our lives others will dictate to us how to live. In spiritual life we are not striving to subject our lives to a rigid scheme. We are seeking to find those rhythms and patterns which allow each aspect of ourselves to have its rightful place in life and its proper share of our energy. It is absurd to pretend that in the chaos of our secular environments and under the schedules imposed by our work and responsibilities this quest for balance and rhythm can be anything other than a very demanding one.”
NOW, TRY TO ANSWER THIS QUESTION:
Am I stepping in time to God’s sacred rhythms?
My prayers for you are that you will begin to dance! I pray that we will all “get back our rhythm.”
Other projects involving Karen right now are: Working with teams of Christian women to design Retreats of Silence, in both 24-hours and three-days formats, through the aegis of Hungry Souls. Developing hospitality initiatives that train Christian men and women how to use their own homes in caring outreaches through the Open Heart, Open Home ministries. Launching the Global Bag Project, a worldwide effort that markets sustainable cloth shopping bags to provide sustainable incomes for bag-makers in developing nations. Researching the impact of listening groups while overseeing some 240 small groups over the last three years. Experimenting with teleconference mentoring for Wannabe (Better) Writers. Designing the Tales of the Kingdom Web site.