Some of the children are still sitting in their places, watching the frivolity over a table strewn with dinner dishes. My first dance is with Richard, and it doesn’t take long for our feet to find familiar rhythms. Rock to the right, rock to the left, roll back and forward. Right, tap, left, tap, and back, forward. Before long he’s tapping out the rhythm on his own while I, in step, spin back and forth in his arms, eyes laughing delight as we remaster the Rock ’n Roll. In the list of love languages, they left mine out. I never feel more loved, more connected, more alive, than when he dances in step with me.
But stage of life says we don’t stay partnered long before mini-versions of each other cut in on our dance. Some get it quicker than others, but we slow down the pace while counting out the rhythm. Rock to the right, rock to the left, roll back and forward. Right, tap, left, tap, and back, forward. The night is young, but so is our company, and we dance them to bed and into their dreams.
A few days later and it’s the day before we start the school term in lockdown. As the day cools off I gather the children together and I teach them the rhythm of tomorrow.
“If you wake early, you read your bible quietly, being careful not to wake anyone else. At 7am we’ll meet you at breakfast and have a lesson from Dad, and then we’ll do our chores, and regather at the table at 8am for school.” I take them through the rhythm of the day, the ebbs and flows of work and play, and they repeat it and we go over it, pacing it out slowly until they’ve all got it.
What delight comes to those who follow God’s ways!
They won’t walk in step with the wicked,
Nor share the sinner’s way.
I always thought the first psalm in the book was teaching us about the company we keep. 'Don’t hang out with the wicked', was the word I took away and yet another read with the dancing scene fresh in my mind shows me that that’s not it at all. This song is not just about companionship. It’s about a ‘way’, a ‘rule of life’. It’s about staying in step, in sync with the Way of Jesus. Following Ancient Rhythms of sleep and Sabbath.
Blessed is he whose pleasure and passion is remaining true to the Word of “I Am,”
meditating day and night in the true revelation of light.
He will be standing firm like a flourishing tree
planted by God’s design,
deeply rooted by the brooks of bliss,
bearing fruit in every season of his life.
He is never dry, never fainting,
ever blessed, ever prosperous.
Living out of sync is like dancing out of step. The awkward discomfit lessens the enjoyment of the players, the beauty of the product, and brings a premature end. This life we’re living - it has a rhythm, it has a way.
We’re learning lockdown liturgy, finding true tempo while 'doing time’. Liturgy is form, a structure to live our lives from, a communal meter and measure to which we can conduct our worship. When we worship together, we sing, because of the ease with which we can keep cadence with each other. Not just time, but spirit tempo, too. We repent together, we remember together, we rise up together and we celebrate together. It is this communal worship that so many Christians are missing with such fondness at this time.
But let us remember that all of life is worship, and for everything God has given a rhythm. As we find it, let’s not just follow it alone, but learn to dance together. As families, and housemates, let’s learn liturgy together.
As I write this, children are playing when they should be reading, and I stop to lead them back into family liturgy. I take little hands in mine, and step to the right, step to the left. They quickly remember earlier antics, and in seconds, we are dancing. They‘re just starting to enjoy it, when I pull the wrong way in the wrong time. Little faces look at me, confused.
“That’s what happens when you break pace with the family. It ruins the rhythm,” I remind them. I take them back through the rhythm of the day and we pace it out again, and again they get it. Right, tap, left, tap, and back, forward.
We keep step with each other, and we remain true to the Word of “I Am”.
Never dry, never fainting,
Ever blessed, ever prosperous.
To Ancient Rhythms, the dance goes on, and we're all in sync together.