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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.