Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Rerunning the Rhythms

Summer is here and everything is changing. So, I'm re-running an old-but-always-pertinent-to-me post about routines, lack of routines, and settling into the unsettling lack of routines.

Oh, happy summer days!


I was complaining to my confessor that my summer routine was sorely inadequate. Everything (or so it seemed on that dark day) that I fashioned, constructed and implemented during the school year was slowly dismantled through the lazy days of summer. I whined that Atticus and I are both night owls by nature, but that when (post-summer school) we indulged such inclinations during his weeks off, our morning prayer routine suffered. I was looking for someone to blame ... if not Atticus, then I'd take the fall. I was sure I'd be told that our inexcusable sloth must be rectified and that we should strive for a more orderly and disciplined summer routine. Father questioned me:

"He's a teacher, right?"


"And so this happens every summer, right?"


He was silent for a moment and then he said,

"Why don't you just accept the rhythms of your life?"


Accept the rhythms? There's a concept. I was so intent on flogging myself for falling off the routine wagon that I couldn't see the obvious. There was a predictable, recurrring "routine" of seasons in our lives. Accept them as such? What a novel idea. What a sound idea. What a sane idea.

I let the idea mill around my summertime head for awhile. Slowly, the beauty of it began to permeate not only my view of summer but my entire outlook.

"It's not as if we neglect our children, our home, and our duties in those languid days of July," I thought. "It's not that we metamorphose into spiritual slugs, incapable of maintaining any contact with our Creator. It isn't that we don't have a routine ... we just have a different routine," I realized.

And so my acceptance of the rhythms of our life took root and began to flourish. The outlook spilled over into the entire year, and I happily accepted all kinds of rhythms:
The anticipation of September, sharp pencils, and fresh plans

The rebirth of my energy in the fall

The slowing-down and waiting of Advent (made possible by observing the liturgical calendar, instead of trying to keep pace with the world, which is hurrying madly through December)

The long winter read-alouds and snuggling, the blahs that are inevitable in February, and the fact that dancing can obliterate the blues

The rebirth of my energy in the spring

The "Happy to see you come, happy to see you go" feeling at the end of another school year

Our summer life

When we admit it, we know that we all live in that ebb and flow. Much as we would like to control our lives -- to find the perfect schedule and put it into practice -- there is nothing real about that. Life is ever-changing. Anyone (and this would be those of you currently breathing) who has aged a year knows it. Every age, each new stage of life, every bit of growth, brings challenges, delights and overhauled routines. And the same is true of each week, month or season, with variations due to the circumstances of our lives and vocations. Teachers, farmers, tax accountants, work-at-home writers, caterers, retail managers, priests and pastors, mothers of new babies: they (we) live with certain rhythms and predictable-yet-ever-changing-and-unpredictable routines.

And, once I accepted that novel, sound and sane idea, I stopped complaining to my confessor.

(Correction: Lest it sound like I'm now the perfect non-complaining, non-whining confessee, I need to add that I no longer complain about our rhythms. I've moved on to complaining about other things.)


May your summer be unpredictably happy.


Heather said...

I didn't catch it the first time, but I loved it the second. Aren't our religious insightful? Great post- thanks!

Sarah said...

Thanks for re-running this. We're having a summer of oscilating rhythms as my 4yo has activities some weeks and nothing other week and we're in and out of town. I'm actually, for once, just letting myself enjoy the break from our usual routine.

Jennifer said...

Our summer has only been oppressively boring. I wish I could have read this yesterday. It may have given me a new perspective.

Leonie said...

Oh, I love the idea of rhythms - and so agree with going with the changing seasons and routines!