Solid Places

I’ll tell you a secret. Even though I am a person who loves order, much of my life has been lived in disorder. You know – the squeaky wheel syndrome. Whatever squeals the loudest generally gets my attention. Trying to keep it together but not always managing where it matters most, in my soul. I have this mental image of myself as a would-be trapeze artist of sorts, mostly swinging about in mid-air, always grasping for that solid place, something to hold on to. Lots of holding my breath in between. Lots of flopping onto the net below. Hardly artistic!

But as I think more about trapeze artists, their art is centered around those solid places. The beginning platforms, those swinging bars or the outstretched hands of their fellow artists. Never getting off the platform would be pointless. Always hanging on to the bar would hardly be artistic. And the gravity factor makes constant hanging in mid-air impossible! The beauty of trapeze work is actually centered in the rhythm of grasping and letting go. And that’s the way I want, I need, my life to be ordered – around solid places that are as much a part of faith as the day to day unknowns.

So what does this look like for a person who never plans to leave solid ground? I think for me it boils down to being intentional about some familiar Christian practices. Instead of acknowledging them as merely good ideas, realizing they need to be the bedrock around which my days revolve:

  1. Silence – making a point to just sit and be quiet for a few minutes most mornings before I head off into the fray, even before I open my Bible.
  2. Midday prayer – stopping in the middle of the day to spend a few minutes in prayer, usually written prayers. Because in the middle of the day, I really can’t focus as well, it helps to just pray through the same psalm or other form of written prayer.
  3. Evening review – taking time, as often as I remember, to just pause and think about the day before I drift off to sleep. A while back I read where a parent uses these three questions with his child at the end of the day: What was good about your day? What was hard about it? And where was God in this day? Somehow just pausing at day’s end to look back and be thankful for God’s presence seems to tie my days together a little better, helping me remember that God is the one who ordains my days.

Establishing healthy life-giving rhythms such as these was the focus of the retreat I participated in over the past few days. I had previously done a bit of reading on the topic, especially in two books by Ruth Haley Barton, who facilitated the retreat: Invitation to Solitude and Silence and Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation. So this was a great experience, time to put these rhythms into practice for an extended period of time and to consider how to continue to integrate such rhythms into my life.

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8 thoughts on “Solid Places

  1. “The beauty of trapeze work is actually centered in the rhythm of grasping and letting go.” – loved that! xoxo

  2. Love your trapeze metaphor, Dianne — that was really beautiful. And I love your thoughts on intentionally incorporating some practices that sound like a “good idea,” but need a little discipline in order to actually *do* them.

  3. Those are great habits to start and maintain. And I love your metaphor of the trapeze artist.

  4. You always seem to have the rhythm downpat. I have been lucky to have such a great sis to look up to while “She floats through the air with the greatest of ease….”

    Great thoughts. Lots for me to think about, especially the solid places around which to structure my days. Thanks. 143!

  5. I can always count on my sis for encouraging words, but nope – i don’t have it down pat at all. I’m just coming to see these places as comforting places to return to again and again – think of how Kaylee snuggles happily in your arms. LIke that. Instead of actions to strive for – places to be, over and over again. Does that make sense?

  6. Two of my absolute favorite books! Life changing, really.

    I was thinking today about how we rock at the edge of a precipice, between mortal danger and the exhilaration of safety on solid ground above a wide open space. Your trapeze image goes right along with that! Somehow it makes me feel good, this.

  7. Lovely as always. Funny, I ask the first two questions almost every day, but way too often forget the third. And that’s really the important one isn’t it, if we’re to keep the other two in perspective.

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