Today’s Word: ‘Space’ as in… Empty, as in a nest.
When our son left for college and our home was “empty” of the sounds of the pattering of little feet that had grown up there, Nancy Lee and I went on a canoe trip through the Boundary Waters in Northern Minnesota to celebrate our new reality.
On an impossibly beautiful, warm, gently breezy afternoon we were floating in our canoe in the middle of the lake. After a long stretch of quiet thought, Nancy Lee asked:
“What does ‘empty nest’ mean to you?”
That was a great question. It still is.
After a few more thoughtful moments I said,
“It means having more space to explore new and different things.”
When we experience space in our lives, the widening of time, when we create some ‘breathing room’ in our otherwise often frenetic schedules, we find a new and often different space to discover what’s right in front of us.
Where do you need space in your life today? How will you make room for that space? What kind of emptying do you need to do?
Today’s Word: ‘Margin’ as in… creating space, emptying in order to create room for what’s to come, de-cluttering in order to experience room for the essential.
We can do this by creating simpler routines, scheduling more time between activities, scaling back our to-do list to fewer items, and limiting social media.
In order to do this, I don’t post on Sunday. I’m actually trying to leave my device off (and in a drawer?!) from Saturday evening until Sunday evening. That’s challenging for me. Thriving lives need room to breathe.
Try this: close your eyes and slowly take five deep breaths – in through the nose, out through the mouth. As you breathe in, feel your chest expanding to make room for the air. As you breathe out, notice the space, the emptiness, the clarity, the margin.
Today’s Word: ‘restoration’ as in… February.
Nancy Lee and I will be “Stepping Back” to the Restorative Rhythms of Sabbath. We’ll travel to Northwestern Washington State, not far from my home town, and settle into one of the quieter corners of Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands.
For one month and with the gift of unhindered time, renewal will come by stepping back to the rhythms of restoration. We’ll go hiking and biking, walk some beaches and explore the tidal waters of that beautiful setting without the persistence of schedules, deadlines and agendas.
Along with practicing the spiritual disciplines of daily journaling, meditation and writing, restoration will come through simply reveling in the gift of extended time to do more than simply skim, speedread and highlight my way through the works of the authors that continue to shape my life without the insistent questions: “How will I teach this or preach about that?”
Where could you use some restoration in your life? How could you make that happen?
Today’s Word: ‘Sabbath’ as in… ‘rest’ ‘margin.’ Sabbath, as in taking time and making room on a regular basis to step out of chronos moments (time within measurable time) and stepping into the kairos moment (time beyond time; the opportune time).
As I continue to learn about thriving rhythms in our lives I have a deeper appreciation for the rhythms that create wonder and awe, life and aliveness. There are seven rhythms that I lean into every day. I am (we all are) spirited, creative, connected, present, grateful, generous, and missional. But baked into all of these rhythms is the rhythm of sabbath. The rhythm of rest and space and margin and bandwidth, tending to sabbath, tending to rest – the rhythms of sabbath – create a deeper awareness of and appreciation for what it means to be fully human. Sabbath is integral to a healthy life, integral to being fully alive that those rhythms are fully lived.
How we respond to the analytics about how much screen time we use on our devices each month should tell us something.
Today’s Word: ‘aware’ as in…
Frederick Buechner, in his book, Now and Then: A Memoir of Vocation, continues to challenge me with these words of invitation:
“Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it, no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.”
Buechner’s call to encounter life, through all five senses, has resonated with me for decades. Each day, however, I am faced with the challenge of listening well enough. Either I don’t know how to listen carefully enough, or I don’t set aside the time often enough to listen at the depth necessary to hear even the faintest echoes of the fathomless mysteries of God’s movement in my life.
I desire, now more than ever, to embrace the challenge of Buechner’s invitation and to live out my continued call to ministry in new, deliberate and sustained ways. My heart’s desire for this sabbatical is to dwell in the “fathomless mystery” of life and to listen more carefully to the rhythms of God’s grace; so that I am better able to see, touch, taste and even smell my way to the holy and hidden heart of it all. By Stepping Back, Stepping In and Stepping Forward, I will be far better equipped to steward the gifts and wisdom of my years in ministry, drawing upon the best of what has been, preparing me best for what is yet to be, as I pass along to others the absolute best of a lifetime of key moments.
Today’s Word: ‘present as in… “We thrive in the present as people who practice rhythms of sabbath, seek margin, welcome silence, pause to listen, honor thin space, and immerse in what each moment has to teach.”
I’ll be sharing some thoughts on the ancient rhythms of sabbath; the balance of work and rest, creation (making) and celebration (not making), and why we’re called “human beings” not “human doings.”
In the meantime, check out my Rhythms Podcast at paulgauche[dot]com|podcasts. “Episode 8 | Relationships.” I’ll tell you about the sneeze that changed everything, why a ying needs a yang, why a kite needs a string, and how a Disney song could bring peace to waring nations.
Really, go to my website and listen to the latest podcast.
Today’s Word: ‘community’ as in… a couple of thoughts:
When we invest in community, when we work at not only deepening but also widening our connectedness, good things happen.
When we nurture healthy relationships with our careful attention and purposeful kindness, the usual rhythms of interaction hum a little different. When we practice intentional acts of compassion, the usual rhythms of relationships take on a different kind of vibe. When we go out of our way to show hospitality we create a new kind of trust that builds respect.
And when we do that, we co-create a new kind of community that really knows what it’s like to thrive.