Last year, I was looking for blank monthly pages for my planner. I found a package, and noticed that they had Monday as the first day of the week. This caused an existential moment in the aisle while I grappled with the deeper meaning of calendars starting on Monday instead of Sunday. In a hurry, I decided I could work with that arrangement. But the Monday-starting pages wreaked havoc; I could not get in the rhythm of thinking of Monday as the first day of the week.
We all live our lives in a rhythm – sometimes in a healthy rhythm and sometimes not. Biologists say that most of us do best by sticking to the “circadian rhythm” which is often referred to as the “body clock.” Circadian rhythm is a 24-hour cycle that tells our bodies when to sleep and regulates many other physiological processes. When our circadian rhythms are disrupted, sleeping and eating patterns can run amok.
I thought that having a calendar that didn’t match my rhythm was bad, but it is much easier to handle than a rhythm inspired and ruled by chemotherapy. I put up with this arbitrary rhythm for five months. Finally my organized, order-creating personality decided, “enough is enough.” So I created a new rhythm: my week now starts with Thursday and ends on Wednesday. The days have become so regulated, I have given them wacky names:
- Terrible Thursday is the day I swallow 13 chemotherapy pills, 10 steroid pills, and 1 anti-nausea pills in between spoonfuls of Cheerios, followed by a chemo injection. This day is capped off by a night of no sleep.
- Freaky Friday brings hours of steroid-produced energy – a week’s worth of cleaning gets done on Fridays.
- Strategic Saturday ushers in low energy levels. I spend my time cooking for the week, doing household finances, making the grocery list, working on my blog – and napping.
- Sleepy Sunday is devoted to sleeping interspersed with reading for most of the day – my energy level is depleted.
- Mobile Monday I am on the move; my energy is being restored. It’s a day for grocery shopping, errands, and chauffeuring my husband.
- Typical Tuesday is the day most like all the days BC (before chemo). It is wonderful to feel fairly normal again.
- Wistful Wednesday means waking up wishing I didn’t have to go through the wacky week that will start all over again on Thursday.
Rhythm is just as important in our spiritual lives. If we look back at our journeys, we can see blocks of time when we were in rhythm with God and other blocks of time (even years) when we were not. Keeping a rhythm that balances quiet and activity, worship and reaching out, solitude and fellowship, creativity and receptiveness, and learning and teaching requires a deep awareness and thoughtful planning. What do we hold on to and what do we let go? When do we surrender to the unknown darkness and when do we fight to keep growing? When do we speak to God and when do we listen?
Each of us has our own rhythm with God; none of us should judge another’s rhythm. Each of us can learn to be aware when we are out of rhythm. And each of can restore an old rhythm or create a new rhythm when necessary. As Scripture says, “Above all else guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Prov. 4:23).