Exploring rhythm...

In this morning's email was a daily "spiritual reflection" that included these words from Martin Copenhaver:

Everyone is talking about balance these days. We want more balance in our lives. We complain about the lack of balance. We strive for the right balance between our work lives and the rest of our lives. Magazines provide carefully balanced lists of suggestions about how to get more balance. But, frankly, to me the whole concept of balance sounds exhausting, like balancing on one foot or balancing a tray of full glasses while walking on a rocky path—I can do it, to be sure, but not for long. I don’t know of anyone who can stay balanced for very long.

But balance is not a biblical virtue. Instead, the way of life that is commended in the Bible is more about rhythm than it is about balance. There is the rhythm of the week, six days of work and one day of rest, set within the larger rhythms of the liturgical year. Jesus spent time in intense engagement with the people around him in rhythm with time alone or with close friends. And then there is the basic spiritual rhythm of breathing in and breathing out. Indeed, there is a “time for every matter under heaven,” which is an ancient affirmation of the place of rhythm in our lives.

When we strive for balance it is like standing on one foot. When we respond to the rhythms of creation, it is more like taking part in a dance—first one foot, and then the other. Which one sounds more life-giving to you?

What a refreshing and helpful insight this was to me - especially given how tired I've been these past few weeks. I've been striving for an artificial balance - which depends a great deal on me - rather than getting my life into something closer to God's sacred rhythm. I've been too busy (I've said) for prayer, I haven't had time for quiet walking and blah, blah, blah. No wonder I feel out of wack!

There are two things about Martin's words that really resonate with me:

+ First, the whole nature of rhythm - while not unrelated to balance - cuts deeper (for me.) As a bass player with lots of experience on rhythm guitar I know how essential it is to find and keep hold of a groove. Without it, the song falls apart, yes? So, now I have yet another clue about my ever-deepening relationship with the Sacred. Like Micky Hart of the Grateful Dead has said: it is a groove-thing, man. (Here's a clip from yesterday when Ben stopped by my study before worship only to find us running through Annie Lenox's song, "A Thousand Beautiful Things.")

+ And second, this groove-thing has an intimate, social and cosmic reality to it: I have often taught "breathing prayers" to people before surgery so that they might calm their anxieties and get closer to the One who is Holy while waiting in the recovery room. I practice it myself - but it doesn't stop with me - in fact, it really isn't just about me at all. There is a rhythm to interacting and taking time away, doing justice and feasting, waking and sleeping and all the rest.

No wonder this came my way this morning: I am taking the first half of the day for quiet refection and rest both because my time has been so full but also because the second half of the day is jammed. Today I give thanks to God for colleagues who can awaken me to new ways to be healthy and holy AND for God's groove-thing...

1) http://homepage.mac.com/eglintonsc/GraBellydance/about.html
2) http://www.modernartimages.com/circleofdrumsmusic.htm


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