Seeking God Through Healthy Discipline and Rhythms

by Mark Votava

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I used to think that I was separate from God, the land, the environment; but I am coming to see how I live connected and in union with all of them.  As I have learned from writers such as Wendell Berry that to see myself as separate from the environment is an illusion.  The environment is a part of who I am so I must not exploit it or objectify it.

This has led me to explore healthy rhythms and discipline to honor the place I live.  I have been listening to my particular place I live in for over ten years now and am coming to find much wisdom in developing rhythms of deep listening.  Finding ways to show love in the world is becoming a major personal discipline that is shaping me tremendously.  I have found that without rhythms I slowly become lost.

  • Rhythms help us to listen

Rhythms help us to listen.  Listening helps us to become more aware of others.  The mystical imagination cultivates listening.  Listening helps us to honor the place that we live.

  • The earth, land and place

The earth, land and place becomes sacred to us as we cultivate a rhythm of finding ways to listen.  God is the Creator of the earth and we need rhythms to honor its creation.  Macrina Weiderkehr says, “Indigenous peoples often have an innate awareness of the need to honor the natural place and rhythm of their inner beings.  They seem able to pick up signals drawing them into a stance of obedient listening…”

  •  Learning from native, indigenous people

I propose that we need to learn from native, indigenous people such as the Native Americans who are highly in touch with the earth, their land and the place that they live.  They listen more than we do.  They live more simply and experience life less dualistically.  They seem to understand the ecology of life, how all of life is connected and they live more holistically.

  • Rhythms that are relational and contextual

They have rhythms that are relational and contextual to the good of the place they inhabit.  You might think that there is nothing to learn from these people, but that will be our greatest mistake.  We need some rhythms that will help us to develop an honoring way of life toward our place.

  •     Seeking God in everyday life

Rhythms are ways of seeking God in a specific locality in everyday life.  There is such a need for creative ways to seek God in our postmodern culture.  It is hard to seek God apart from a commitment to a particular place.  It is hard to seek God and be disconnected from culture and others.

  •  Finding freedom through healthy discipline

“We need to find freedom,” writes Lynne M. Baab, “by embracing healthy discipline.”  There is a liberation and reconciliation that happens with holistic discipline.  We live more holistically when we become rooted in a particular place over time.

How can we create practices of healthy discipline and local rhythms?