New Rhythms

Written by Daniel Tidwell : February 15, 2008

clockhead.jpgSomething I mentioned in my article about prayer the other day has been whirling around my brain and conversations as of late. I can’t seem to escape this idea that God is deeply interested in changing the rhythms of my life. By rhythms I mean the overall pace, daily and weekly markers, and sense of time and space by which I live and engage with others.

This has come up for me in a variety of settings in the last week or so.

First, we are moving. When we arrived in Seattle six months ago we really had no idea about where or how to find a place to live. We literally found our apartment after 3 months of searching online. It has been a great place, but it is about an hour bus ride each way into the city (even longer to my wife’s work). We sold our car before leaving Tennessee, deciding to rely on public transportation. Thus far our life here has been good, but it has been difficult being so far from jobs, school, and a church that we would like to become more of a part of. In addition to restoring at least 2 and a half hours to each weekday, I am beginning to realize that this move will drastically be slowing down the pace of our lives. No more running to catch buses, or trying to make transfers. Also, we will be more connected to the neighborhood in which we work, study, live, and play.

Second, I was sitting in an Ash Wednesday service and ended up taking account of how skewed my sense of time and connection to others in community really is. I am the kind of person who can tell you, within a margin of 5 minutes, what time of day it is without looking at a clock. I stay very busy and get a lot of things done, but it is often at the high cost of living my life by a constant mental ticking in my head. I measure my connection to others in how well we cut to the chase and economize our time together (how capitalistic of me). I grew up in a church tradition that was comfortable throwing off watches to spend hours on end in altars and singing together, but in that context we were all siloed. Each of us was focused on building our own connection with God without a sense for the community around us. I experience something life-giving in the liturgical churches that were so foreign to me in childhood. As the strangers around me affirm our share need for grace and redemption and our shared straining to live in a way that is like Christ, I find them becoming less strange to me. As we join together at a very different rhythm than that which governs the rest of the city, I am surprised to find myself comforted by and connected with the voices echoing around me.

Third, I was in a class discussion with 5 men and one woman. I had been contemplating these ideas about rhythm for several days when we were brought together to discuss some important theological issues. Everyone politely went around and gave a short answer to the initial discussion question and then the group broke down into the typical westernized conversation (I use the word conversation here, but it should be noted that there is sarcasm in my tone, as I really mean this to be more of a debate). I found myself doing the tennis match head turn as I followed the volley of conversation from one male to the next. Before one fellow could even come to the typical social pause that lets others know you are wrapping up your thought, another guy would leap into the flow of speech and drive the discussion in a different direction. All the while the single female in the group was sitting across from me, sending off every possible social cue that she wanted to say something. I watched the discussion pass by her attempts to enter 4 distinct times before I literally lifted my hand in the middle of the group and addressed her saying, “you wanted to say something?” I was so appalled by the way our conversations exclude, marginalize, run over others, and leave no time for contemplation and internalized change. We don’t actually listen to what others are saying, as if they might have something that is worth hearing and that might alter our perspectives. Instead we use the time that they are speaking as a space in which we can gather our own ammunition and opinions which we will thrust upon them at the most opportune time.

I don’t want to live this way. I don’t see Jesus in this.

So these are some of the ways I am hoping to re-discipline my mind in the ways of Christ. I want to learn to let Jesus govern my sense of time, space, and fellowship with others. I don’t know how this will look, but I am hoping that some of you will have some suggestions birthed out of your own struggle with these issues.


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3 Responses to “New Rhythms”

  1. wilsonian on February 15th, 2008 8:48 am

    Love this piece. Thank you.

  2. joe troyer on February 15th, 2008 9:44 am

    thank you for this. i needed to hear that today.

  3. harry wykman on February 16th, 2008 7:41 am

    I have been thinking about changing rhythms recently.


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