Sunday, March 27, 2011

Ask for the Ancient Paths

I think I should have been a farmer's wife. For a variety of reasons. For one thing, I think it would do me some good to do some hard physical labor on a regular basis. (I'm guessing farmer's wives do more hard physical labor than I do?) Plus, I'm becoming increasingly aware of the value of homegrown healthy food, fresh air, and sunshine. But mostly, I'd like to be able to live in a more seasonal rhythm.

A friend of mine is blogging for Lent about her attempt to incorporate more spiritual disciplines into her life, but rather than "spiritual disciplines", she's terming them "rhythms". That's an illuminating twist for me. "Disciplines" is a harsh word -- it makes them sound like something I'm forcing on myself as a punishment. Something imposed from without, something I am going to want instinctually to resist but feel obligated to submit to because they're good for me. Like broccoli.

"Rhythms" is more palatable. "Rhythms" are intrinsic. They are part of how we are made, something deep in our soul that we've wandered away from and forgotten.

I think I've shared this story before: at my first Ob/Gyn appointment with my first pregnancy, my doctor gave me what he said were very important instructions. He said, "If you feel hungry, it's because your body needs food -- so eat. If you feel tired, it's because your body needs rest -- so lie down." I remember being awed by the simplicity of this. My body will tell me what I need. What a concept!

This has been a theme that has come up regularly in my adult life -- this idea that God made our minds, bodies, and souls to function in a certain way, and the more we mess around with that, thinking we can do it better, the more messed up we get.

We're made to sleep when it's dark and be up when it's light.

We're made to eat natural foods, not processed chemicals.

We're made to interact with people face to face.

We're made to parent our children by being physically with them in all the dailiness of life.

And I think we're made to live in seasonal rhythms. When I was a teacher, before my children were born, I think it was easier to do that. Summer was distinctively different from the other seasons -- I was able to set my own agendas, throw routine to the wind, live completely in the moment. By fall, I was craving routine again and the cooler weather was invigorating. When winter came, I spent my spare time wrapped in afghans, reading on the sofa, cuddling with hubby, hibernating, cocooning, in a good way. Spring woke me up and gave me a craving for cleaning, decluttering, organizing. And by summer, again, I was ready for a change.

Something in me says that's how it's supposed to be. We're created to live in cycles, in rhythms. Modern society, with its great technological advancements, thinks it has improved on God's ways, but it is sorely mistaken.

"This is what the Lord says: 'Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls." (Jeremiah 6:16) This is a key verse for many homeschool parents, who looked for the "ancient paths" of parenting and believed God would bless their families if they walked in them.

That took faith, and they were rewarded. I'm praying for the faith to walk in other ancient paths.


Ona Marae said...

i just left a huge long comment and it wouldn't accept it. ACK!

thanks for this post and i will blog a response to it today!

D. Ruby said...

wonderful post, Gwen. It feels the same to me, too - rhythms seems more like a free choice for the right reasons, whereas discipline is a forced thing we do because we feel compelled by social pressures. At a personal level, our family's decision to come to India was a quest to find new rhythms, as we felt out of sync and in dire need of a change. It's worked wonders so far.