Deep breath. In. Out. Again. In. Out.
There is a rhythm to breathing. It’s as if there is something built deep within us, inside our subconscious, to be rhythmic. You don’t have to think about it. You don’t have to try. You simply are. In. Out. In. Out.
It has been taught to me, and I have seen it, that there are rhythms to life built naturally within us. A certain teacher talks often of a six-and-one rhythm in God, and therefore in us as well. Six on, one off. Interestingly enough, I’ve even been taught that zoologists have discovered and seen a six-and-one rhythm in animals as well.
I’m reading a book right now called The Sabbath by Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. In it, he talks about the rhythmic life of a Jew, how every Friday night at dusk they, as a family, sit down for a dinner together and begin the process of observing the Sabbath—without fail. Every Friday. From Friday sundown to Saturday sundown, they do no work, but only what fills them up. What puts them back together.
This rhythm is essential. Studying these ideas has pushed me to see what other rhythms I have in my life, what rhythms do I lack and how I begin the road to becoming the most whole person possible. What are the things I do regularly that are not life giving? What things do I do that give life? Make me whole? What are things I see throughout history that have given people life? These are the things I want.
There are seasons in my life when the phrase everything feels out of control runs too often through my head. Anxiety surrounds me. I feel like I’m going from one stress-filled situation to the next, just trying to survive until I can lie down to sleep that night. I absolutely hate that feeling. I can’t stand it.
As I continue to try to find what makes me whole, I thought I’d share a few rhythms I have that I’ve found to be life-giving, and therefore I believe to be of God.
There is a rhythm to running. Being healthy is part of being whole. I started getting into running in early high school and then got addicted in college. I have found running to be, for me, so refreshing. I can clear my head and just put one foot in front of the other at whatever pace I feel like for that day.
My friend Tony and I are trying to fast once a week for a month to see if it gives life. I don’t quite understand what it is about depriving your body of food, but there is an awareness I have when I fast. I feel as though I see things more clearly and that my communication with God is more direct and honest. Fasting is something I’ve ignored for a long time because I’ve used the excuse that I don’t understand it, and therefore shouldn’t practice it. Poor choice. As I practice this rhythm I feel God giving me insight into why he designed it into the plan.
I have this rug in my office. Well, actually it’s a blanket I bought on the street in México, but I folded it into a rug of sorts. Every morning (I should say almost every morning … some mornings I have failed to do so) when I go into my office, I turn on my lamp, set down my pack and bow. I pray for numerous things every morning, but there is something powerful in bowing to God. I read through numerous places in scripture of times when God showed up in some form or another, to see how people reacted. If I believe that I can go into the presence of God, then I want to respond appropriately. I found that time and time again people fall on their faces and on their knees. There is an awe and a silence that is consistently there. I want that rhythm in my life. When I enter the age to come, I want to have knees that are prepared to be in His physical presence.
This may seem a little more abstract (puns!) to you, but shooting photographs on a regular, rhythmic basis gives me a new perspective. I figure that if I feel more full of life when I do it, then it must be something that God enjoys as well. I bet He is an incredibly good photographer. He should totally make a website. I’d put it in my bookmarks. I would.
My friend and I, for a while, read five chapters a day of scripture for an entire year. After we finished reading front to back, we started doing these “emersions,” as we call it, where we read a shorter book every day for anywhere from 23 days in a row to an entire month. One month we’d do Philippians. Then, another month, we’d do 1 Timothy. Then we’d do John in sections. I have fallen away from this rhythm in some ways, and I’m trying to regain it again.
I love walking everywhere I can. It gives me time to think, and it saves money on gas and such. I try to walk as often as I can. But I need new shoes. Buy me new shoes.
… from small children. Don’t judge me.
I know that these things (sans the stealing) seem small, but they are huge to me. They are changing my life. Every day feels more rhythmic, more in tune with how God designed me to be.
Whatever it is in your week that gives you life, do it more and more. Find the things that make you more whole and more you. Find the things that you think God would enjoy doing as well and make them a rhythmic pattern in your life. God wants you to be whole and full of life. And so do I.