Tuesday, February 19, 2008

In Tune, In Rhythm and Breathing

Not too long ago I used an illustration with my youth group that seemed to work for them. We were talking about how our relationship with Jesus impacts every area of our life. I used a guitar to illustrate this. Each string was a different aspect of our life and when we're in tune with God, things sound nice. (A second guitar was the "God" guitar, and we would play together "in tune.") I would then detune one string on my guitar ("Suppose I'm cheating on my wife...") and then the God guitar and I would play and the awful dissonance would occur. My youth leaders encouraged me to use that illustration at a retreat I was due to speak at, and so I did.

Recently, I was asked to speak at a youth rally that was being put together by three Hispanic churches. I met with the pastors and, after some prayer, thought I would be heading in a particular direction with the message, but it just wasn't happening. In praying some more, I felt like the guitar illustration would work better for the theme of the night, so I used it again.

The next day, I was cycling with a friend and this illustration was fresh in my mind. We were out for over two hours and had some good chats in between hard efforts into the wind where neither of us were able to do much talking. After discussing if every one should just return to the Roman Catholic church (he's a Roman Catholic) we got to talking about prayer and the role that prayer plays in our lives, especially as it pertains to our emotions and how we deal with temptation. (And, no, I'm not considering a return to the RC church.) I made the comment that I really need to begin my day with prayer as it seems to help me be "in tune" for the day. When my day doesn't begin with prayer, I usually notice some dissonance later in the day.

In that we were cycling, it also brought up (in my mind, not in our conversation) the concept of rhythm. One of the things that I've learned as a relative newbie to cycling is the importance of my pedal cadence, especially as I climb a hill. (Side note: I'm really not much of a climber and its very frustrating! I'm getting better at it, but...). The idea is to find a comfortable cadence or rhythm as you climb and maintain it up the hill, shifting gears accordingly. In thinking about being in tune and rhythm, I began thinking about how rhythm is also important for life. Rob Bell has a Nooma video that talks about being in rhytym with God and the Kingdom. In Phyllis Tickle's The Divine Hours she mentions in the introduction how the daily office can provide a rhythm for our prayer life and I have found this to be true.

Finally, there is the issue of breathing. I once read some advice for climbing: "Concentrate on your breathing and your legs will follow. " Rob Bell addresses breathing in another Nooma video. Taking time to "breathe," he says, is important for our relationship with God too. I've found this to be true as well.

Staying in tune, finding your rhythm and breathing. Easy to do and easy to fall away from, regardless of where. I know it's easy for me to forget about concentrating on my breathing as I climb, just as it's easy to get started with the day before taking some time to pray. But, I'm endeavoring to stay in tune, to find a good rhythm and breathe.


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