Shaped Through Rhythm by Katie Kibbe
Walking on the beach, the rhythm of the waves soothed my soul. In a year of turmoil and anxiety, a return to what felt like the edge of the earth grounded me in the present moment.
If your 2020 was anything like mine, the chaos directed your attention away from your interior life a bit. Any sense of predictability, normalcy, and routine vanished with the quarantine. Dirty dishes, dashed dreams, and lots of disappointment (among other things) remained in its wake. So many road markers of our daily journey vanished and we were left dazed and confused.
2020 took the structures we relied upon, shook them up, returned them in an unrecognizable heap. The waves reminded me that order remained in the rhythms of life created by our loving God, it was up to me to find it.
There is a sacred rhythm woven into the fabric of creation giving stability to our world. Our daily routines are much like waves. They create the stability we crave, establishing a rhythm of life that balances our internal thought life with our external action.
Anxiety prevails with no structure. The right amount of routine makes us feel at home. Too much structure and we resist constraints imposed upon us. Discovering your rhythm frees up mental space allowing you space to create, connect, and rest.
Like waves of light, God wants to permeate all aspects of our lives, not just a few conversations here and there. Establishing the rhythm of a routine allows you to incorporate more spiritual practices into your schedule as you eliminate what needs to be left behind.
You can reorient yourself even if so much around you feels unfamiliar.
The spiritual practice of establishing Rhythm allows you to remain open to the promptings of the Spirit while remaining grounded in your everyday life. It creates familiarity through repetition. Interestingly, it makes you more productive in areas that matter.
When the structure of your day arises from the inside rather than the outside, you are able to adapt and remain oriented toward your primary focus, God.
More than 1500 years ago, a man sought to connect with God established a daily routine still used today. He took the best of what he knew and wrote it down. Over time, other men joined him and formed a community. That man, Benedict, was gifted at organizing and imposing the structure allowing community to flourish.
In her book Seeking God: The Way of St. Benedict, Esther de Waal observes, “[I]n St. Benedict himself we have a layman writing a guide for his household...His concern was to help them impose on this busy life such a structure and order (both external and internal) that they could make prayer the one essential priority.”
For most of my life, I treated spiritual practices as accessories, something optional to add to my calendar if I felt like it. Like any good accessory, they were the first thing I left behind when the stress of life mounted. Prayer remained, but only when I remembered to turn my worry into a plea for help. My quiet time with the Lord was easily abandoned altogether if too many people needed me.
I want my life to be an offering of praise to God. (cf. Hebrews 13:15) I long for His lovingkindness to flow through me to each person I encounter. Without structure, I flail in my own strength and find loving much harder than necessary. The burdens I heap on myself are infinitely harder than any Jesus would impose upon me. Does this sound familiar?
Benedict’s Rule has elements we can each adopt and apply to our own lives. He structured the day with its necessary components: sleep, prayer, spiritual reading, work, rest, and eating. When your day includes all of these elements in the right proportion, you are primed to direct your heart toward God. Finding your Rhythm is the process of figuring out the proportions that work best for your life.
Using Benedict’s structure as a framework transforms scheduling from a mechanical process into a spiritual practice. Your posture shifts from one of seeking productivity to one of discovering purpose.
Allowing God to establish the Rhythm of your schedule is a beautiful practice beginning in prayer. Before you blow up your schedule, look to see if any of the elements recommended by Benedict are missing. If so, ask God what He would like added and subtracted from your day.
Starting small is essential in all aspects of life including the spiritual life. We can imagine a future where we are doing all the things and sign ourselves up for more than we can actually manage. Frustration and shame set in when we fail or quit yet another thing. Protecting ourselves from these two gremlins is vital, so starting small helps you find the Rhythm that works best for you.
Katie Kibbe is an author, coach, and speaker. She practiced law before staying home with her two children. In her younger days, she played a little tennis, made a million sack lunches, puttered around the garden, and ran a couple of marathons. Helping other women make their God-given dreams a reality by taking control of their time gets her out of bed. She is the author of several bible studies including Abide and Arise. She and her husband live in Ohio where she waits for the children to return with dirty laundry. You can find out more about her at www.katiekibbe.com or on Instagram @katie_kibbe.