I wasn’t raised in a Mainline church family so the rhythm of the liturgical calendar was a foreign concept to my young ecclesial practices. Honestly, the only concept of ecclesial rhythm I understood as a kid was the pew-to-pew passing of the wooden tithing bowl with a green felt bottom. This I knew for certain would happen every week. And the weeks when my dad would let me drop a dollar into the mysterious wooden bowl with the green felt bottom… man, those were my favorite.
My understanding of rhythm really began outside the walls of our little baptist church.
Growing up in small town Minnesota, where my childhood home was surrounded by cornfields and cows, the rhythm of the changing seasons was planted around me. And next to our yellow, 2 bedroom farmhouse was a dirt road that carved a dusty single lane through the acres of corn and soybeans. This road was my escape, my path to contemplative freedom. It was my training ground for soccer’s pre-season training runs, my tempo course work during track season, and the space for my sisters and I to explore the world beyond the 2.5 acres boundary lines of our yard.
I cannot begin to count the number of days spent along this dirt road. But what I can recall is that this off-grid path was the starting point to my understanding of a theology of rhythm. The miles I walked/ran/biked along this road were calculated through seed-time and harvest; growing in me a keen awareness of the universal rhythms of creation and sowing the seed of my future as a theologian.
Fast-forward to myself as a 20-something. I served in youth ministry, first starting as a volunteer at a suburban Lutheran mega-church, then to full-time at an affluent Presbyterian church on the coast of California. During this time of life my understanding of rhythm shifted from the fields, back into the walls of the church.
After years of adventures along the dirt road of my childhood, I was ripe and ready for liturgical rhythms.
You see, I believe the liturgical seasons are a reflection of the larger rhythm that is woven into the stuff of creation. These seasons cultivate greater mindfulness to the beauty that I (we) am connected to something much larger than myself. I am connected to others, to the boundaries of time and seasons, to the story of all those who have come before me and those who will come after me.
From the fields to the church, these rhythms remind me that I am connected to the dust of creation and the breath of the Creator. For it is from dust, animated by the breath of the Spirit, that I was made. And it is to dust, eternally bound to the Creator, that I shall return.