Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Power of Rhythm

"Dominion and awe belong to God;
He establishes order in the heights of heaven." ~Job 25:2

In the natural world, there is a distinct rhythm to nearly everything. 

In the human body, there is the rhythm of breathing, the heartbeat, the cycles of hunger and sleep. In the greater world, we find the rhythm of the sun, moon, and seasons. In response, we human beings have developed a "life beat" that mirrors these rhythms we find in our world--these beautiful rhythms that God Himself ordained so that we might encounter His order and comfort. 

In days past, before the great invention of Thomas Alva Edison, people rose and slept with the rhythm of the sun. Summer days called families outdoors to revel in the warmth and glory in the sunshine. Autumn inspired a multitude of yearly rituals as varied as the fruits of the harvest: apple picking, canning for the winter, Thanksgiving feasts, hayrides, corn mazes, and the first crackling fire in the hearth at home. Winter nights made way for traditions of curling up by the hearth with a good story and mugs of hot chocolate. And, the new growth of spring naturally inspired a desire in people to refresh their own lives with spring cleaning and the self-examination and reformation experienced in the Lenten season.

So, when did our lives become so arrhythmic? 

Whether we know it or not, our bodies, minds, and our very souls yearn for a rhythm in our daily, weekly, and yearly lives.

Our housework benefits from a rhythm. If we have a system for doing things, then we don't forget or neglect less desirable or less noticeable tasks. We have chores that we do daily, like washing the dishes; those that are done weekly, like cleaning the bathroom; and those that are done yearly, like cleaning the flue. Personally, I adore the schedule that our grandmothers used, and I try to keep it, with a little tweaking here and there.
Monday is washing day.Tuesday is ironing day.Wednesday is mending day.Thursday is market day.Friday is cleaning day.Saturday is baking day.Sunday is the Sabbath day.
Our children benefit from routine. Many of the brightest minds in child development wax poetic on the impact rhythm--or lack thereof--has on children. Not only do children find comfort and purpose in a routine, they function better with one. When a child eats dinner at the same hour every evening, he will begin to get hungry at that time, as his digestive juices begin to flow. When a child goes to bed with a set routine and at a set time, she will begin to get sleepy as that routine begins and that hour approaches. Children like knowing what to expect. When they can be proactive, rather than being taken by surprise, it makes parenting easier, too.

Our husbands benefit when we can bring a sense of order to the home. Oftentimes the workplace is a frantic one with ever-changing demands and, therefore, an ever-altering schedule. Our husbands should be able to look to us to keep order and rhythm in the home. He may not know what it is, but when a man walks into an orderly home with a standard routine at the end of a long day, he will feel a sense of peace. Such a home is a place he will be eager to return to at the end of the day.

Our prayer life benefits from routine. In the Old Testament, we see a great deal of how the yearly cycle of fasts and feasts was important to our Lord. He gave them to the Israelites as a way of balancing their lives and a method of remembering and worshiping Him. Throughout her history, the Church has developed a rich tradition of daily prayer routines, such as reciting the Angelus at noon or vespers in the evening. Even grace at meals is an illustration of this important spiritual rhythm. By always saying grace, we never eat but that we remember our Provider and give thanks to Him.

I would encourage any wife and mother to do the necessary and important work of cultivating rhythm in her days, that she might reap the benefits of living more fully into God's beautiful design for life. It may not be what you're accustomed to. It may not be something you feel competent in. But ask the Lord for guidance, and He will help you find His peace.

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