In prior posts, I spoke about a growing struggle among people in their ability to focus in prayer. In part, this seems to be a combination of fatigue and a general decline in our ability to concentrate on a single task rather than multi-tasking. We are constantly interruptible by cell phone calls, text messaging, or instant messages. Rapidly flowing commercial breaks, pop-up windows, and a stream of 1 to 3 minute youtube videos only exacerbates our ever-expanding restless attention spans. Yet even these factors are symptomatic of a malady far more fundamental.
Many of us are failing to observe any rhythm to life. There is a constant rush to fill each minute with either work or entertainment. Even each minute is intended to be filled with not just something, but multiple activities. The scurry is painfully evident in the frequent conversations I have with people who raise a resounding communal chorus of “I need to learn to say, No!” I meet moms and dads dressing children with clothes pulled direct from the dryer or out of a pile of washed but never folded laundry, eating from fast food bags and struggling with how to be in more than one place at once. The common tasks of life like cooking, cleaning, and maintaining our possessions can rapidly either be neglected or seen as drudgery. At the very least these tasks can seem overwhelming.
God designed creation with natural rhythms. Birds and animals observe the rhythm of a day. They have predictable patterns of sleeping, resting, hunting, and eating. They also observe seasonal patterns as do plants. There are times for nesting, explosive growth, gathering, mating, pollinating, producing fruit, hibernating, and lying dormant. Defiance of these patterns often results in death.
Go, Go, Go, Go and Go some more is not a natural rhythm, but it is a rhythm we have conditioned and enabled ourselves to observe sometimes with devastating consequencies: burn out, illness, depression, addiction, disease, failed marriages, disenfranchised children, lack of meaning and enjoyment, fatigue and/or death just to mention a few. Somewhere along the way we have lost a sense of healthy natural rhythm. Perhaps, a growing gap in our connection with the land has precipitated this loss. Or perhaps, somewhere in our arrogance we have begun to see creation as something we are separate from. In our minds, there is humankind and creation. Rather than human kind as part of creation. We have forgotten that we were created. We are one element of nature. What makes us think that we are so separate from the inescapable realities of day and night, seasons, aging and death that we can ignore or resist these pieces of rhythm without consequence?
So how do we begin to live within the rhythm of life rather than constantly oppose it? That’s a question that I want to unpack over a series of blogs. One is not enough. Beginning to recognize the problem though is half of the battle. Think about your own life. What rhythm(s) do you observe? How do you flow between resting and working, being and doing, community and solitude? Give this some thought. How does the flow of your day fit or conflict with the natural flow of a day? Do the words “natural flow of a day” necessarily mean anything to you?
Blessings to you as you ponder these questions, from The Practical Disciple.