Wednesday, 30 November 2011

A time for everything in season

As I come to write this blog I find myself thinking, do I really have time to do this? Is this a good way to spend this hour?
With this I’m reminded of my longstanding attempt to keep my life in balance, to juggle all the activities I believe are important, and to keep everything, including my sanity, on an even keel. My conclusion has usually been that in reality I try to do too much and therefore often find myself searching for things I should stop doing, so that I can do other things better.
Recently I was given a book to read, ‘Your Life in Rhythm’, by Bruce Miller, and I feel the urge to share some of the principles with you as I remind myself of them.  
Essentially Miller makes the point that trying to keep life in balance is not only an unattainable pipe dream but it’s also a hurtful, destructive one.
I can see that’s true when my busy days turn into busy weeks and months with so much pressure to keep everything in place that I feel like I’m balancing a dozen balls in the air, or trying to stand on one foot and hop from one commitment to another without falling over. I’ve lived like this at different stages of my life – trying to balance housework, family, church activities, health issues, work, study, friends, socialising, spiritual growth and sleep!
And now I’ve added writing with all the extra activities that involves – editing, promoting, marketing, networking; all while trying to remain creative. I suspect I’m not alone in this challenge!
These are some of the precious things I’ve taken on board from the concept of living rhythmically instead of trying to live a balanced life. To some these ideas may just be a way of reading different meanings into the same words but for me they have been freeing.
“A well-lived life will find ways to harmonize with created rhythms. We’re part of the great symphony of life, but in our technological society we have drowned out the music. The phases of the moon, the tides of the sea, the seasons of the earth – nature is filled with cycles and seasons. Bears hibernate and birds migrate as winter descends. Trees flower and plants bloom as spring arrives. The stars mark time as they march across the sky. The rhythm model recognises and celebrates the rhythms of life.” 

A flower from my garden- perfect in its season

Rhythm honours time and movement; it celebrates variety and diversity, it highlights uniqueness and recognises common patterns. It honours excellence and the sacrifice required for achievements while also providing time for renewal.

Balance is pose. Rhythm is a dance
Balance is static. Rhythm is dynamic
Balance suggests you can have it all now.
Rhythm suggests you can have much, but over time.
Balance is control. Rhythm is embrace.
Balance is maintaining the system. Rhythm is seizing opportunities.

For me these words resonate with those of Solomon, who in his wisdom proposed that there is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven… a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak…   Solomon used a Hebrew word for time that refers to more than chronological time; it suggests an occasion or a season of time, what in Greek would be a kairos moment. Rather than seeking an artificial balance, Solomon is challenging us to live full-out in each and every season. When it is time to love, love with all your heart, when it is time to  dance, dance with everything you’ve got. When it is time to write, immerse yourself in it fully. Live full-out. When we live our lives in rhythm, we are free to give ourselves fully to every kairos season.

This has been helpful in all aspects of my life. It has helped me to think of writing rhythmically; to recognise there is a time for creative uninhibited flow, a time for editing, a time for leaving words to mull around in your head, a time for wrestling with single words and a thesaurus, a time for putting it all aside and then coming back and reading it anew, a time for sharing it with others, time for feedback, assessment, for letting go, for surrendering loved passages or words, a time for marketing and networking and promotion and selling, a time for resting from it all, for leaving the creative ground fallow so it is renewed. A time for distraction and self renewal, times for focusing on  other aspects of my life as they call me.
I can’t do all that at once. I can’t assign a balanced schedule to it all. When I try I feel overwhelmed and pressured. If I approach life with the idea of seasons and cycles, I can let it happen more naturally, allow it to flow as opportunity and motivation and creativity cycle through me. I can leave it to God’s spirit to arouse me and lead me.
For every good work that He began in me, He will bring to completion in His timing and everything will bear fruit in its right season.
I hope some of you will find a helpful word here. Carol


  1. Really love this blog, Carol, and totally agree. This way of thinking stops all that frustration mounting up inside us and those thoughts that when we are doing one thing, we 'should' be doing another. Right now, I'm at an editing stage, with some selling and family stuff thrown in - and that's completely okay. It's really about 'living in the moment' with God, isn't it?

  2. Wonderful post Carol. I really identify with trying to juggle so many things, but it makes sense to look at things in terms of seasons/rhythm, rather than balance them all at once. I shall ponder on this for the rest of the day. Thanks.

  3. Each new blog takes me aback with its freshness and thought-provoking content. Thanks, Carol, for sharing part of that book. I used to feel stressed, guilty and pressured when everything on one of my 'lists' was not done. I've learnt to let go and let life flow to some extent, but sometimes the old habits creep back. I love the idea of rhythm and cycles, I will certainly dwell on that.

  4. Great thoughts, Carol, and now I'd really love to read that book. I know that when I focus on 'balance' instead of 'rhythm' my emotions and health suffer. I think you've found a good key.

  5. Carol, an inspirational post. I love being in the rhythm of life, I believe it feeds our creativity and frees us up to be who God wants us to be so that we can experience the seasons as they come and go regardless of what stage we're at in our writing or personal life. I believe the picture of rhythm is more pleasing to the eye than balance, too. Blessings.

  6. Great thoughts, Carol. I love the idea of living life to the fullest in everything we do. It's something that children do easily, yet as adults we let the 'life' interfere.

    Love it.

  7. Thanks Carol! Lots to think about in your post. I too try to live a less hurried and frenzied life - but the truth is - as you point out - there is a season for everything. Thanks for sharing about rhythm and how it enhances our lives. Loved the flower in your garden. That was beautiful!

  8. Wow, this was great! I'd never thought of trying to avoid that sort of balance, and so the practical use of the distinction between chronos and kairos also never occurred to me. Perhaps the lack of adequate words to distinguish those concepts in English does us no favours. Now I shall feel less guilty for failing to do everything at once.

    Coincidentally, not five minutes ago I submitted a post elsewhere commenting on the need to be able to switch our inner critic on and off as the situation dictates (typically, drafting vs. editing). This would seem to relate.

  9. Thanks ladies and Peter for the interest in my post. I love the idea of flowing with life rather than wrestling with it. I think we could all learn something from this.

  10. Yes, Carol, we can all learn something from this. I sometimes envy people who just go with the flow - always. It's their nature, their lifestyle. And then there are those who constantly feel 'duty-bound', trying to keep up with everything that life brings with it as well as what they themselves add to the heap. I will keep reminding myself of your post. Thanks, Carol.

  11. Carol, that was great! Thanks so much for sharing. I've had dental surgery this week, and the 'balance' of life took a hit. Who knew going with the 'rhythm' was a better way of looking at life? I'm so glad I read your thoughts today. Very encouraging! And like Paula, I too want to read that book.
    Dotti :)

  12. Thanks Carol. I go through stages of struggling with all I think I need to juggle and thinking something's got to give. Sometimes we do need to stop and look and analyse our lives, but most of the time I think you are right. We just need to live fully in the moment/season/rhythm. Sometimes I find the best way to remind myself of this is to remember Jesus' words on worrying and the very exciting possibility that he could be coming back this afternoon. :)

  13. I'm so glad our Lord plays the music to which our individual personalities can swing and sway to. I appreciated your insights, Carol, for in many ways I'm 'unbalanced' but enjoy the listening to and then moving with God's rhythm matching our circumstances. Certainly takes a lot of stress off our minds.
    Ray Hawkins

  14. Thanks Carol,
    that was very helpful.

  15. "The rhythm of life has a powerful beat..." Carol this is such an encouraging blog. So glad I searched back to see if I'd missed anything! Thanks.

  16. How hard it is to keep all those balls in the air. It seems at times I have a few going that shouldn't even be there in the first place. I relate back to some lyrics of a song I know about a watch that doesn't have hands or numbers - it just says NOW.