Respect the Rhythms

My lame existence: most days I wake between 5 and 6 A.M. and immediately start the coffee, check my emails and the news. Then, as if they can sense that a peaceful thought may soon occur, one by one, the kids pop up. I dress and feed them, send one to school, and soon after, we leave for the YMCA or other errands. Then, we return and I make lunch, put them in bed for a nap. I then have time to do the things I can’t get done while the littlest kids are underfoot. As hubby returns from work, I am often out the door to run the errands I would rather not bring them along with me for during the day. I get back, make dinner, we eat, I clean up, we have a quick prayer, we wrap up any other needed planning conversations, start the bedtime routine, then blessed sleep. Repeat. Slight variations arise, but basically, I live to check off the stuff from the to-do list. If I do anything remotely enjoyable, the Puritan inside feels like I am sneaking a guilty pleasure. This is my life at this point with these little ones.

In times past, despite lack of running water, lack of stable food supply, primitive medicine, evil leaders, and animals who can eat you lurking about, people found a way to enjoy themselves, probably a lot more than me. Clearly I am missing something–I have forgotten to taste the supposedly sweet nectar of life. In the olden days, (and in current times in some places) there were culturally expected times of rest and relaxation. There was siesta time in the heat of the day before air conditioning, there was tea time between lunch and dinner to chat and refresh, there was the weekly sabbath where even the livestock got a break. There were market days and saint day celebrations people looked forward to frequently throughout the year. There were seasonal things and foods you could only enjoy at that time of year. In our culture, and in my home, we are out of whack–we have electric lights, so we are up late and early doing work. We have air conditioning (thank God!) so we can work all summer and through the heat of the day. We have grocery stores and few farms, so most of us don’t plan our lives around the agricultural times and such. Pretty much every day is like the next and every strip mall here is like the one across the country with the same stores and architecture. We don’t have our rhythms anymore to preserve us and make special times. We don’t even have to wait for Charlie Brown specials and the Wizard of Oz to come on T.V. anymore, because we can watch it any time we want now in the age of the internet. This is convenient. But we have lost some of our most pleasurable experiences–waiting for something makes you appreciate it that much more. And if there is an accepted time to rest and enjoy life, then we also have expectations about when to work. We can contain things within their boundaries and not work while we should be playing and play while we should be working. Having established rest times means we don’t need to feel guilty for taking a break to enjoy our blessings in life. We should reclaim and make our own rhythms–daily, weekly, seasonally, annually. This is how our Creator designed us.

We can look at what normally happens in our days and find a natural break to stop and regroup and enjoy. For me, I am thinking I need to wake a little earlier to read and pray during the quiet morning time. Also, a little coffee and chat break to talk with my husband at 3 when he gets home would be a nice way to catch up with him. And perhaps at the end of the day when the kids are all snug in their little beds to sit outside and reflect a bit–maybe with a glass of wine? Or maybe a stroll in the cool of the evening after dinner. Setting aside Sunday (or whichever day you believe you should set aside) to get off the hamster wheel and just enjoy the blessings God has given you. To believe that God can turn your loaves and fishes from 6 days of toil into enough is an act of faith. Making an annual retreat would be a great tradition to include, if possible. Of course it is good to keep the Church’s liturgical year celebrations, and it is good to have your own family celebrations–traditions for first birthdays, Friday pizza and game night, house-buying celebrations, Superbowl get-togethers… These are things that add joy to our lives and are important to our sense of community and humanity. What are we alive for if not to commune with God and each other and to become more like Him? And how can we do that if we never pause, reflect, pray, talk, laugh? Sometimes sitting around on our butts is the holy thing to do.

What are some of your lazy ways to holiness?

Your $0.02