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  • Writer's pictureJeff Conway

Rhythm - The Beginning of Devotion

“What is that sound?”

Mmm! After skipping two years, this month we spent a week on the Cape. For 37 years it has been a place of simplicity and respite for both of us—actually longer for Patti since she grew up in the Boston area. When we’re there, dreams are dreamed, good food is eaten, and the soul is revived.

“Are you hearing that?”

When I am crossing the bridge from mainline Massachusetts to Cape Cod, smelling the ocean breeze and pine trees, any stress within me falls off before we reach the end of the bridge. Patti used to say I had a complete personality change on that bridge. “What time is it?” “I don’t know.” “What day is it?” ”I don’t know.” “What do you want to do today?” “Whatever people want to do.” She is correct, the Cape brings me to a place of deep simplicity and peace.

“Do I have water in my ears?”

We have spent most of our trips at the elbow—Orleans, Chatham, Dennis—but now zipping around in my wheelchair, accessibility has become an important consideration. So, this year we found a place in the West End of Provincetown. This meant easy access to restaurants, art galleries, and fudge. That it was a fabulously quaint area was a serendipitous surprise; every house and cottage had a garden or flower box filled with a spectacular blooming variety. Accessibility considerations didn’t turn out as well as we hoped, but that didn’t stop our fun—it just made for a bit more work for Patti and the friendly couple that helped her carry the wheelchair out to the street.

“I definitely hear something!”

Our small cottage was connected to others that took us over the sand. What I did not realize at first was that our line of cottages was built on a pier with water running beneath. When the tide came in, our cottage was just a few feet above the water. As such, I began to hear this muted noise that confused me, but when I opened the window its source became apparent. The noise, the sound I was hearing, was the rhythm of the tide moving in. Brilliant. I wasn’t going to have to fall asleep to YouTube’s dark-screen Ocean channel. I had my own live version right below me. The ocean’s rhythm that I love and has helped me with various spiritual practices would be right underneath me for four days.

The ocean’s rhythm and I have had a long, good, life-giving relationship. An ocean storm with powerful crashing waves off the Oregon coast was always memorable, but the regular rhythm of the waves is what I especially enjoyed while strolling along the beach. Living close to the ocean in Boston and Florida, I spent many hours allowing the rhythm of the calming waves focus my soul. When I was living away from the ocean, I always heard its call upon my soul from what I had learned sitting with its continual pattern.

Recognizing the rhythm of our life is important and brings us to deeper places of understanding of how God is working in our lives. But most of the time we must be intentional in our recognition (though I love those moments when God surprises us with a wave of unsolicited recognition). For some of us the rhythm of our life is more linear; we enjoy a consistent pattern like the movement of tidal waves. For others, the rhythm is more circular. Or maybe the unexpected pattern of storm waves helps us hear the right notes. We do not all have to follow the same nautical chart.

However your rhythm works, are you taking time to reflect on how Jesus is moving in that rhythm with you? God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer—wants to be in relationship for you. Jesus wants to live within all of the parts and seasons in the rhythm of our lives. Jesus wants us to know and feel love, comfort, conviction, direction, and the Spirit’s intimate presence just like any healthy relationship we have in our lives—only amplified by God’s perfection and fullness. And Jesus wants us to share that relationship of God’s love with others.

How do you begin to participate with Jesus in the rhythms of life? Start in a simple way. Say, “Thank you, God,” “Help me, Jesus,” “Lead me, Spirit,” or various other simple phrases, out loud or within yourself to bring that relationship into your everyday life. You don’t have to invite God in. God has already intruded into our lives in the most beautiful, loving, benevolent way. And God wants us to lean into that intrusion and rejoice that we are not alone—no matter how the waves of our lives are moving.

So, breathe. See God moving with the rhythm of your life and know the truth of St. Augustine’s words, “You [God] have created us for yourself, and our heart is not quiet until it rests in You.”

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About Jeff


I've always been a fish out of water (and I love fish). From being an artist in a sports family, to a Christian who leans into the mystery of God while still trained in a Word-centered mainline tradition, and now a person in a wheelchair amongst able-bodied hikers, my life has perpetually been outside the box (or bowl). 

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