From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Everyday Grace: Get rhythm!

by Mary Cronk Farrell

(From the Sept. 12, 2002 edition of the Inland Register)

The start of the school year marks so many milestones of family life. One friend just sent her oldest to off college; another walked hers to kindergarten. Such times make us acutely aware of the rhythms of life.

In past generations peopleís lives more closely followed the rhythms of nature. In autumn people bustled about preparing for winter. They harvested and preserved food, gathered fuel, chinked the cracks and patched the roof. Winter came and life slowed, people rested, reflected and rejuvenated. With spring began the work of preparing soil, planting seeds and pruning away unnecessary deadwood. In summer, people tended what had been sowed. The season included days of hard work and days of celebration with family or friends, relaxing hours and warm romantic nights.

For many of us, these seasonal rhythms have been replaced. Perhaps by the sports seasons, football and soccer, basketball and volleyball, baseball and more soccer. Or by the consumer buying seasons ó Back-to-School sales; Halloween candy, costumes and decorations, followed by Thanksgiving; then Christmas shopping, after-Christmas sales, Valentines day, Easter, and so on. For the outdoor recreation crowd, itís hiking in the fall, skiing in the winter, cycling, river-rafting in the spring, camping and water sports all summer.

The glaring difference in these new cadences of life is that thereís often no down time. Itís all go, go, go.

I started the summer with hopes of spending relaxing, carefree hours with my children. I planned fewer commitments, and relished the idea of no schedule. By August, I couldnít wait for school to start because I needed a break from all the summer activity.

And yet, as I sit here in the quiet of my empty house on the first day of school, I fear within a month Iíll be stressed again. Will I soon be running between volunteer commitments, prayer group, school meetings, music lessons and sports practices? Will I get caught up in the holiday wind-up this winter and be exhausted when Christmas arrives?

I feel tired just thinking about it. How does one get off this merry-go-round? Just jump off? Is it possible to slow down a bit, then step off? Sometimes Iím tempted to just hold on tight as it goes faster and faster.

Rhythm appears to be such an essential part of nature, it must be important in our lives. How can we be more intentional about establishing rhythm in our days?

One possibility is the Liturgy of the Hours, or Divine Office, which has existed from the earliest centuries of the church as a daily rhythm of prayer. It provides prayers, psalms and meditation for every hour of every day. A simplified version includes Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer and Night Prayer, as well as the Office of Readings that can be said any time of day.

This may not seem at all practical for you or your family. But perhaps it offers a structure to strengthen healthy spiritual rhythm in our lives.

Start small. Maybe night or morning prayer is already a habit. Try adding two minutes at noon or before dinner. No need to go out and buy the four-volume set of the full Liturgy of the Hours. Use the family Bible to read a psalm or chapter from the Gospels. Hum your favorite hymn while praying the words in your mind and heart. Simply sit quietly for five minutes concentrating on the rhythm of your own breathing.

Those experienced with the Divine Office say it works best to decide on the specific times youíll pray each day, and try to stick with that schedule. As you get in the rhythm, you may find you want to increase the amount of prayer, or the number of times. Beware an overzealous agenda that may set you up for failure.

Establishing a regular pattern of prayer fertilizes the soil so other life-giving rhythms take root.

(Mary Cronk Farrell is a free-lance and childrenís writer living in Spokane with her husband and three children.)

© 2001, Mary Cronk Farrell

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