Monday, June 11, 2012

The Unforced Rhythm of Grace

The goal I seem to accomplish when traveling is to unabashedly wear myself out. There is so much to be done in so little time. I take it on myself to go on beach walks and long bike rides after playing a round of golf. I hike, poke through markets, and  catch up on reading late into the night or talking over late night decaf. It's all good. I wouldn't change a thing—except for the exhaustion I feel when I'm finally home. I look at my calendar and say, "How can I do this to myself?" I promise to never exhaust myself again, and attack my calendar with a machete, slashing all unnecessary events. It takes a few days  of atmospheric change to make the transition, but rest comes. I've settled myself back into my quiet routine.  While I like my busy traveling, I also like my routine.
Routine is a good thing—a prescribed course of action followed regularly.  Over and over.  It is actually very restful and productive to be part of a routine. Watch an out-of-sorts toddler who has missed his nap. Watch an older person who has to leave his home for a hospital stay. Watch me on vacation! In every example, you find disruption, chaos, and ultimately melt-down. I like best the way the toddler handles it—he has a crying fit.
But the creative side of me wants to argue, "But too much routine is boring. I don't want to do the same thing—routinely—day after day. The writer Amy Tan once said, "You have to be displaced from what's comfortable and routine, and then you get to see things with fresh eyes, with new eyes." And I love what Emerson said about routine, “So much of our time is spent in preparation, so much in routine, and so much in retrospect, that the amount of each person's genius is confined to a very few hours.”
Well, that explains it. That explains why my "genius" is so underdeveloped. I spend my days preparing, thinking, and keeping my safe routine. It explains why seeing with fresh eyes can plant new ideas that grow creativity. Yes, even on the busiest of days. And yet, in my routine, I stumble upon the solution. I stumble upon another quote that restores me, settles me, and ignites the creativity in my soul. In Matthew 11:28-30 (The Message), Jesus said, "Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."
Ah, to learn the unforced rhythms of grace.