Pastoral Musings from Rain City

it's about 'what is church?' it's about whether 'emergent' is the latest Christian trend or something more substantial. it's musing on what it means to live the city, in America, in community, intergenerationally, at this time in history...

Sunday, January 22, 2006

I've Got Rhythm - sort of

The seventh and final definition for the word rhythm in the freedictionary is: Procedure or routine characterized by regularly recurring elements, activities, or factors. And it is just this kind of rhythm that I seem to be missing right now, as I head into the 6th decade.

The Celtic Christian tradition placed a great emphasis on the seasons, and on finding a rhythm of work, rest, and prayer. This meant taking the Sabbath seriously, getting enough sleep, finding time for genuine conversation and restorative activity. It also meant working hard, being engaged in the creative endeavor to which one is called be it cooking, building, writing, leading, or even wearing the multi-faceted hat known as ‘pastoring’.

I do all three – the work, the rest, the prayer. My problem is that word rhythm. For example, two weeks ago I enjoyed intense rest on holiday with my wife for 5 days. It was so restorative that when I came back home I forgot to rest at all – up early Saturday, a break for watching football, and then up late. Then on Sunday – well Sunday’s in these parts are both enjoyable, energizing, and really hard work. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday – each day began early and included an evening meeting so that I wasn’t home until around 10 each night; intense work.

Friday I woke up with chills, nausea, and 102 fever. It was so nasty that I not only missed skiing Friday, but I missed a silent retreat on Saturday I’d been looking forward to for a long time, and today I’m missing preaching for the first time in many years. And worse than all of that - no time or energy to blog!

This is not the kind of rhythm I need. I need a rhythm that is sustainable. I wonder if that means limiting the sum total of evening meetings in a week? Perhaps it means breakfast meetings can’t be scheduled the morning after evening meetings. I don’t know. Maybe we just all get sick. But I do know this: If we don’t work at developing a sustainable rhythm to our lives, we’ll have nothing to offer. I’m working on this on many fronts – silence, solitude, Sabbath, diet, exercise, sleep – and now scheduling. Is Christ sufficient for the work? Of course. But he’s the one who taught us to come apart for a while and rest.

Ask me if I’ve got rhythm and I’ll say, “I can play the drums. Musically I’ve got rhythm. But now – it’s the rhythm of life I’m working on. Developing consistent routines of work, rest, and prayer and vital for all of us, but perhaps even more so in the 2nd half of life!


At 24/1/06 22:22, Blogger Ryan Wink said...

Was there a point in your life that you found this rhythm, Richard? I find that the more I try to organize my life, the less I see/hear any sort of rhythm. I feel like life for me could be described as an electric guitar solo. The notes of my life’s song flow fluidly but often violently in unpredictable patterns. Behind this randomly organized melody strums the consistent bass of teaching and youth group and the impulsive, cymbal smashing drum beat of my walk with Christ (both because my walk is exciting and erratic). Maybe it is the spontaneity and inexperience of youth or my general resistance to organization, but I also struggle to find any sort of rhythm in my life. Anyway, back to my question: Have there been points in your life when you had rhythm, other than your knack for laying down a solid beat on the drums?


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