Spiritual Rhythm in the Chaos

Weekly Reflection, Sunday, August 26, 2018

By: Matt Rawls

I’ve always thought of the end of summer and the beginning of the school year as a beautiful part of the of the rhythmic calendar. The oppressive heat and humidity of late summer gives way to the hopeful cooling of the fall. The vacation mindset is retired to ramp up for the busyness of the school and program year. This is a time of hope and change. This is the time for new year’s resolutions. For waking up earlier. For going to bed earlier. For buying new planning calendars. It’s a natural part of the mundane and spiritual rhythm of the year.

Except for this year. This year I have a newborn baby living in my house. This year my rhythm of life has been thrown out with so many dirty diapers. Gone are dreams of a nicely scheduled sleep pattern. Gone, even, are more than four contiguous hours of sleep. Where the start of fall usually entails a deep purging of clutter, this year is celebrated seemingly every day by the Amazon Prime delivery of varied baby goods. It feels often like there is no rhythm, just survival.

But then Miriam opens her eyes, and everything changes.

If you don’t know, my wife and I had a baby girl a month ago this summer: Miriam Birdsong Rawls. John Philip Newell, the Celtic preacher, poet, and mystic points out that in the eyes of a baby, it is very easy to see the Face of God. I don’t know how to explain this yet, but deep inside I know it to be true. And I bet you do, too.

This is the beautiful epiphany I’m celebrating this year in place of my typical rhythms. It’s messy, but that’s where the joy is. It’s exhausting, but that’s where the life is. It’s completely different than anything I’ve ever experienced, but somehow that is where the comfort lies.

The rhythm of the new school year always eventually spirals into chaos. Yours will. Mine already has. But it is in that chaos, just as much as in the rhythm, that our souls are invited to the thin places to connect with God.