The rhythm method

Back in 2003 I discovered Celtic Spirituality, in particular the lives of St Aidan and St Cuthbert. These chaps have had a huge influence on my spiritual journey not least because of the idea that they had of living a rhythm of life that stemmed from their monastic heritage.

Fortunately I have not had the call to go and live life as a monk, although i have spent quite a bit of time with different men and women who live the religious life and whilst i am in awe of their commitment and discipline to living out their calling in this way, I am convinced that God’s allows people to have a DNA that allows this vocation to be lived out. This is not part of my DNA and i feel called to live out my faith in very different way. But that does not mean that there are not lessons to be learnt, developed and taught from this way of life.

Over the years i have developed a philosophy of living that has been based on an understanding that we are created to be creatures that live in rhythms. Let me explain what i mean by this ….

The best way to think about this is to look at the Island of Lindisfarne (otherwise know as Holy Island) this is the place that first of all St Aidan chose to live and later St Cuthbert. But this is no ordinary Island (in many ways) but when the tide goes out twice a day it is attached to the main land by a causeway, when the tide comes in it again becomes an island cut off by the sea. Aidan chose this place because of the forced rhythms it creates. There is a natural ebb and flow which allowed life to take these rhythms of busy times and peaceful times. In the days of these saints the best way to travel would be by sea (it was much safer than to risk going by land with robbers and strangers at every point) so high tide would bring many visitors coming and going, where as low tide meant that not many traveller would brave the quick sands that surrounded the island (and still do!)

In our modern age rhythms in life are not something that come easy to us, or if they do they are distorted to make us fit the mould we are conditioned to (work or other demands) For example i know many teachers, they work very hard, they look forward to the holidays but many of them when they do finish work spend the first week or so being ill. Moreover, although i don’t have the hard facts i know it to be a common feature that when people reach retirement they die within two years of finishing work.

this concept of working until we stop is not a rhythm that allows us to thrive as human beings. We all face busy times, we all have demands that will take it out of us, but here is what i am suggesting, if we see our lives as being in a rhythm between busy and stillness, if we know that we are going to have times of stillness within the busyness we will be much more refreshed more often. What this might look like is for you to work out in your own journey. But Stillness and silence needs to be as important in our lives as eating and drinking. It is a discipline and something that needs to be worked on. I wonder if we all embraced life in rhythms how much more healthier, fulfilled and at peace we would be?




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