Adri Collins was active in the ABC Youth Group during her teens, and she’s kept contact with us ever since. During her years at John Muir High School, she discovered the power of drumming. She internalized the beat, and it became part of who she is. She continued with the John Muir Alumni Drum Corps after graduation and eventually became the leader of that group, which was featured in local and area parades, as well as other community events. As she approaches 30, her greatest joy and fulfillment comes from teaching drumming skills to young people in her Crown City Drum Squad.1
Adri’s not unique in this. Many people find relief from life’s stress and anxiety in therapeutic drum circles.2 But the cure is not in the drums; it’s in the rhythm. Actually, life without a familiar, reassuring rhythm is intolerable. I was born as a baby into a rhythm of days and nights, regular feeding, diaper changes and burping back taps from my parents. Going to school added new rhythms to my daily life, which crossed over into my pattern in whatever work I’ve done. I may anticipate the “change of pace” a vacation brings, but I’m usually surprised to find that I miss the regular “pace” of my life and have trouble totally relaxing without the structure my usual life rhythm provides.
There are all kinds of subtle rhythms built into my life. The beat of my heart and the cadence of my breathing are quietly reassuring. Normally, I’m not even aware of them, but if my heart began beating irregularly (breaking its usual rhythm), I’d feel panic. Similarly, shortness of breath makes me speed up the rhythm and gasp for more air.
There are many other rhythms in life that I follow unconsciously: the time I retire at night and the time I wake up each morning; the three meals a day I’m used to having; the pattern of days I work each week and the weekend change-of-pace; seasonal changes; holidays that I count on at key times of the year. Scientists have discovered a lot about my “circadian rhythm,” which appears to be built into my DNA and controls a lot of my feelings, longings and sense of well-being. Some of us have added more dimensions of rhythm to our lives by participation in hobbies, exercise programs and regular friendship groups. Unfortunately, others have become slaves to addictions in an effort to fill the void with a familiar, “dependable” rhythm, which can methodically tear down their lives.
The Bible has a lot to say about life’s rhythms. The first passage that jumped into my mind was the familiar poem (another form of rhythm) in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8:
For everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance; etc.
I just read about an interesting rhythm during Jesus’ time of his ministry on earth.3 In Mark’s Gospel, there are a number of references to Jesus’ pattern of going on prayer retreats, particularly just before critical moments in his public ministry. You can feel that rhythm as Mark describes Jesus’ interaction with his disciples and others, as if he needed to recharge his soul on a regular basis.
Well, if Jesus needed that spiritual rhythm, you and I certainly do as well. That can begin with regular church attendance. Some people miss a week or two, without feeling any spiritual deficit. But suddenly, they find a little emptiness inside, some doubts about whether God is there for them. They didn’t realize how much the very rhythm of church attendance (regardless of the quality of the music or the sermon) meant to their spiritual equilibrium. You can add to the strength of the spiritual rhythm in your life by prayer before meals, daily devotions, attendance in a weekly Bible study/prayer group, etc. However, make sure to find a rhythm that enhances your spiritual life, not a routine that stifles it.
Maybe you should listen to a little more of Adri’s drumline beat so that this lesson about the importance of rhythm can become part of your pulse.
Pastor George Van Alstine
3Jesus’ Rhythm of Life, Bil Gaultierre https://www.soulshepherding.org/jesus-rhythm-of-life