On the plane the other day both of us mentioned how much we crave routine right now. We have tried to establish a bit of routine for Ceara and Caleb amidst the transition and traveling of these past few weeks, yet we have struggled to do so for ourselves. One reason I began to write again while at Stony Point for three weeks was because I started to have a bit of a consistent schedule and a bit of a routine.
Yet more than routine – the same old day-in day-out monotony – we want to embrace habits of faithfulness in even deeper ways. Consistent prayer, consistent reading, consistent communication with dear friends – all of these can help to provide some groundedness during continual change.
Courtney and I cannot wait to get the boxes unpacked – part of which entails filling boxes for Goodwill or rummage sales. We want simplify, which can be a bit difficult task for sentimental people who have a story attached to almost everything we own.
The waves are consistent. One thing we LOVE about our new location is that you can always hear them. They remind us of the rhythms of life. We hope that in listening to them that they will help us to live habitually and faithfully.
As we drove from Nellysford, VA to Charlotte, NC the other day to catch our flight back to Maine I missed a turn. Now the route I was following didn’t change, yet to continue following the route meant I needed to exit, while going in the same direction meant I was on two new routes. I noticed it about 20 minutes after the fact. I don’t know if I was daydreaming or what, but I knew that I had to go a different way.
I got re-routed (thank you, Google maps), and eventually returned to the right route. While driving the new directions down small country roads I looked intently for signs to tell me I needed to go in a new direction, which I hadn’t done when I was comfortable on the “main” road. It made me think of four Hebrew words I put in a place that I would see often.
“Shema, Shuv, Shevet, Shabbat.”
This is what they mean for me. (Before I go on I must acknowledge that I am incredibly indebted to Ellen Davis, Phil and Martha Berg, Trey Hulsey, Thomas Rumph, David Greenknockle, and Mark Graves for helping me understand and live into these in deeper ways.)
The first word means “hear,” and it is the beginning of a prayer from Deuteronomy (ch.6 v.4). “Hear, O Israel, the Lord is God, the Lord is One, and you shall love the Lord, your God, with all of your heart, your soul, and your strength…” I have written about this prayer before in other posts, I think, so i won’t go into detail here. Briefly, I need to pray this prayer frequently, as it centers me and reminds me who I am, whose I am, and why I am living life.
The next three words are different, yet they share a similar root word, and, therefore, can be linked. They can be translated “turn around” (it is also commonly translated in English as “repent,” but “turn around” captures the meaning a bit better, “sit/dwell,” and “rest and worship.” im not feeling too articulate this morning, yet I hope to link these together for you as they have been linked together for me.
Often when going in many directions or even just comfortable in one way – whether physically, mentally, or emotionally – it is easy to switch into auto-pilot mode and not pay attention to the signs. And even if i feel that i am paying attention I can get off-track sometimes. I need to remember that it is okay to “turn around.”
Once we’re headed in the right direction it becomes important to dwell in the place and the habits that help us to pay attention and hear properly. A vital aspect of this entails community – sweeping together and helping each other to hear and to remember.
And this dwelling together can lead to worship, and this remembering can help return us to Shabbat – Sabbath – a gift of restoration and joy given to us by God at creation.
When I started these ideas seemed more coherent in my mind, as they drizzled on the page, though… Anyway, I hope these musings can be helpful for you in some way as they have been helpful for me to stumble over them this morning.