It’s a great word really: rhythm; not a new word to our language at all. If you know your ancient languages, Greek precedes Latin in history and both languages have definitions that English has absorbed. The Greek language gave us the word rhythm from their word rhythmos which means measured flow or movement; Latin said rhythmus meant “movement in time”.
Think music. As I write this my percussionist hubster is packing his drumstick bag into our suitcase in the next room. We fly to Florida tomorrow where he is attending his alma mater’s marching band reunion for the first time since he graduated from UF (in the previous century).
He is all about rhythm. Tapping foot, thumping fingers, trilling tongue; rhythm is always happening. I think his mother must have the patience of Job because both Colin and his next younger brother are percussionists so drumming and banging went on in their home all the time. Thankfully for her, they are both gifted musically, so they actually made music not just noise.
The Greek word rhythmos doesn’t stop at music. Listen to these further definitions: arrangement, order, form, shape.
Think seasons. There is an arrangement, an order to the seasons; spring: full of anticipation of new growth; summer: showing off signs full fruit & flower; fall: arms full of abundance and colors change while temperatures cool; winter: blanketed with gray or white to rest from growing.
We expect seasons. We need the order of seasons. We look for and live by the rhythm of the seasons. How many times have you heard someone comment on the out of sync display of Christmas merchandise in mid-October? This jars the rhythm that we have come to expect and need.
But the Greeks didn’t stop with music or seasons in their definition of rhythmos: they also used the word to identify “soul disposition”. Now here is a definition of rhythm that can use some exploring!
What is the disposition of a soul? How does a soul demonstrate rhythm? How does one practice soul rhythms?
I, by no means, have this thought through all the way or clearly understood or even developed within me, but there are lots of people who have gone before us who’ve pondered and shared what they learned as they practiced soul rhythms. I have gone through seasons of reading books by authors who lived hundreds of years ago, gleaning what I could from their experiences.
My #1 all time favorite read of this nature is Practicing the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence. In the thin book, a collection of letters compiled by a friend, Brother Lawrence told of his deepening journey of faith through the rhythms of his daily life.
What are your current rhythms of daily life? Do they bring you through awareness of your need for rest, re-creation, growth, giving out, work, renewal? Is your soul full or starved? Do you feel abundance or stretched thin over too many responsibilities?
How about you?