By Cristie Gardner
As a little girl, I remember how much fun it was to go to the park and play on the seesaw with my sister. We took great pleasure from moving up or back on our side, so we could make the other side go up for longer, or come down more quickly. Up, and down. Up, and down. When our side was up, with our faces in the sunshine, feeling the cool breeze on our face, we almost felt like we could join the birds in the air with their unfettered flight. Then we would come back down. And sometimes that was a hard hit. It wasn’t so enjoyable when our side came down, but it was an inevitable part of going back up again. The reason seesaws have two seats is so that there is always someone to bring you back up when you go down.
This is how the Law of Rhythm works: Up and down, up and down. In and out, back and forth, inside and outside. Birth and death, planting and reaping; sorrow and joy. It’s all part of divine law, and it’s all a part of life.
Life itself is experienced as a rhythm: we breathe in and out; our heart beats with a systolic and diastolic pressure. We sleep, then we wake. Our very cells respond to rhythm, when we dance or sing and change our state from depression to joy.
Ecclesiastes teaches us of the Law of Rhythm:
3 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
We all resonate with the Law of Rhythm. Our hearts beat in rhythm, with the atrium and the ventricle operating in rhythm with each other. Cleveland Clinic describes the interaction this way: The impulse starts in a small bundle of specialized cells located in the right atrium, called the SA node. The electrical activity spreads through the walls of the atria and causes them to contract. This forces blood into the ventricles. The SA node sets the rate and rhythm of your heartbeat.
We love the rhythm of the seasons: spring, summer fall, winter. We love the rhythm of day and night. We love going to the beach and watching the waves burst forward, seemingly stretching water fingers to reach farther and farther with each surge forward, and each collapse and retreat. The tides come in and go out, leaving treasures behind.
In high school, I read one of my favorite books of all time, by Anne Morrow Lindbergh–Gift from the Sea. Anne went through unspeakably difficult times with her young son’s kidnapping and murder. Despite all of that suffering, and many other disappointments in her life, Anne went to the sea and found peace with the many lessons that the sea taught her. She wrote: “When you love someone you do not love them all the time, in exactly the same way, from moment to moment. It is an impossibility. It is even a lie to pretend to. And yet this is exactly what most of us demand. We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life, of love, of relationships. We leap at the flow of the tide and resist in terror its ebb. We are afraid it will never return. We insist on permanency, on duration, on continuity; when the only continuity possible, in life as in love, is in growth, in fluidity – in freedom”.
My mother was an inspired writer, and many of her children’s stories are written in rhyme. Why? Because she loved to relate her messages in a way that resonates with a child’s natural sense of rhythm. Dr. Seuss did the same thing, melding words to describe situations and animals and narrations in a memorable, rhythmic way.
Our seasons of life contain a rhythm that seesaws joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain, good and evil, dark and light, connection and separation, health and sickness. All of both the good and the bad (read my podcast transcript on the Law of Relativity) are a part of the rhythm of life.
Life, as with giving birth, is a process. The lessons to be learned are all part of the journey. When a woman is in labor, she can feel the ebb and flow of muscles contracting, moving the baby down into the birth canal preparing for birth. The process may seem hard (in fact, after eight babies I can tell you that birth is of the hardest things I have ever done!), but it is necessary to get the baby here. So it is with the Law of Rhythm, in all aspects of our life. When we learn the Law of Rhythm sufficiently, we can anticipate that difficult experiences will be followed by wonderful ones; the light will come after the darkness; the sun will shine after the storm.
Og Mandino said: “The tides advance; the tides recede. Winter goes and summer comes. Summer wanes and the cold increases. The sun rises; the sun sets. The moon is full; the moon is black. The birds arrive; the birds depart. Flowers bloom; flowers fade. Seeds are sown; harvests are reaped. All nature is a circle of moods and I am part of nature and so, like the tides, my moods will rise; my moods will fall.”
Even though we have experienced the Law of Rhythm since being in the womb, we sometimes have difficulty holding on to the fact that things will change; they will get better when times are tough. It almost seems as though it is easier to hold on to the fact that things will get worse! Why is that? I’m not sure. I know that being on earth, some of us tend to focus more on the dark, the lack, the anger, the unpleasant, more than we focus on gratitude, and positive expectation, and peace, and hope. Our faith is a pathway to achieving our dreams: we design what we want in our minds. We create everything spiritually and then bring it into reality with our action.
When we rail against what is happening, instead of pulling back a little bit and observing the Law of Rhythm in our lives, we find ourselves in a state of constant worry and turmoil. Yet the highs and lows of life fall into a beautiful rhythm that can teach us SO much!
The comedian Charlie Chaplin demonstrated this knowledge as he got older.
Although some might have called his acting personality silly, Chaplin showed remarkable insight in sharing these truths.
“As I began to love myself I found that anguish and emotional suffering are only warning signs that I was living against my own truth. Today, I know, this is “AUTHENTICITY”.
As I began to love myself I understood how much it can offend somebody if I try to force my desires on this person, even though I knew the time was not right and the person was not ready for it, and even though this person was me. Today I call it “RESPECT”.
As I began to love myself I stopped craving for a different life, and I could see that everything that surrounded me was inviting me to grow. Today I call it “MATURITY”.
As I began to love myself I understood that at any circumstance, I am in the right place at the right time, and everything happens at the exactly right moment. So I could be calm. Today I call it “SELF-CONFIDENCE”.
As I began to love myself I quit stealing my own time, and I stopped designing huge projects for the future. Today, I only do what brings me joy and happiness, things I love to do and that make my heart cheer, and I do them in my own way and in my own rhythm. Today I call it “SIMPLICITY”.
As I began to love myself I freed myself of anything that is no good for my health – food, people, things, situations, and everything that drew me down and away from myself. At first I called this attitude a healthy egoism. Today I know it is “LOVE OF ONESELF”.
As I began to love myself I quit trying to always be right, and ever since I was wrong less of the time. Today I discovered that is “MODESTY”.
As I began to love myself I refused to go on living in the past and worrying about the future. Now, I only live for the moment, where everything is happening. Today I live each day, day by day, and I call it “FULFILLMENT”.
As I began to love myself I recognized that my mind can disturb me and it can make me sick. But as I connected it to my heart, my mind became a valuable ally. Today I call this connection “WISDOM OF THE HEART”.
We no longer need to fear arguments, confrontations or any kind of problems with ourselves or others. Even stars collide, and out of their crashing new worlds are born. Today I know “THAT IS LIFE”!”
Isn’t it interesting that learning to love himself opened a door to understanding the rhythm that surrounds us?
Marcus Aurelius said, “Just that you do the right thing. The rest doesn’t matter. Cold or warm. Tired or well-rested. Despised or honored. Dying…or busy with other assignments. Because dying, too, is one of our assignments in life. There as well: “To do what needs doing.” Look inward. Don’t let the true nature of anything elude you. Before long, all existing things will be transformed, to rise like smoke (assuming all things become one), or be dispersed in fragments…to move from one unselfish act to another with God in mind. Only there, delight and stillness…when jarred, unavoidably, by circumstances, revert at once to yourself, and don’t lose the rhythm more than you can help. You’ll have a better grasp of the harmony if you keep going back to it.”
When our children were little, I would often get up at four in the morning, make a HUGE breakfast casserole or pot of oatmeal or some other breakfast dish, study my scriptures, write in my journal, shower and dress and work out and try to get as much done as I could before the kids woke up. I knew that once they woke up my time was not my own any more. Although that pattern provided many benefits, it left me stressed and depressed sometimes, because realistically speaking, I couldn’t possibly stay on top of all there was to do with eight children!
Now, interestingly, I still find that there is no way to stay on top of all there is to do. The season of my life is different, but I still have the rhythm of life to teach me that I need to address things with divine guidance, and inspiration.
Consequently I sleep more hours, and when I waken in the morning, I spend at least a half hour in prayer and meditation before I get up; usually longer. Why? Because if God is on my team and I’ve consulted with Him as my Coach, I can be more certain that what I do is the best use of my time that day.
Deepak Chopra said, “Our biological rhythms are the symphony of the cosmos, music embedded deep within us to which we dance, even when we can’t name the tune.”
I have been surprised to discover that when I am in the flow of God’s rhythm, I accomplish more, even in seemingly impossibly short periods of time. This happened with the composition of a musical theater production, where the words, scenes and music just came into my head, and my production was later performed for about 8,000 people over a summer. Performers, stage hands, light and sound technicians, set designers, and costuming all came together from different places, because I was in harmony with God’s rhythm. It happened another time, when I was dealing with a religious/ political issue in trying to obtain public and religious support for clearance to build a temple for our church in Montana. The outcry against us was huge, and it fell upon me to personally contact many of the pastors, ministers, rabbis, and preachers in every religion that existed in our state. I felt Divine help, giving me the words, teaching me to listen and understand before I spoke, comforting and assuring me that the seemingly harsh questions I was hearing were merely exploring for answers. Through that experience I saw hearts changed. I felt support where there had before been opposition. I was moved and humbled with the knowledge that God knows more than I do and can arrange everything according to His rhythm.
For years I have felt strongly compelled to put compose a song to go with some inspired text. Now, I’m not a trained musician, but songs have come into my head before, as they did for the musical theater production. The tune had been given to me many years ago, and I felt resistance, feeling I wasn’t “qualified” to be involved in the composition of this particular song. But God has His own plans, and when He directs things and we are receptive to His rhythm, things can come together so smoothly that they seem almost effortless.
A few weeks ago, I was watching a conference session on television for our church. In between sessions, the prompting came: NOW! Write it down now! So I did. But I don’t know how to write music. So I asked again, what to do, and this time I felt prompted to contact the fellow who transcribed the music for me for the musical theater production. I have tried to get in touch with him over the years, but he isn’t on Facebook very often and my communications had gone unanswered. This time, though, he was there and responded immediately. So again, we are collaborating on the song that was given to me.
We are so often like little children, saying we want to do things by ourselves. But when we place ourselves, our spirits, and our hearts, into a common beat with God’s rhythm, we walk from our comfort zone into our miracle zone. People are brought into our lives, physical properties come to us that are needed, opportunities open up, experiences show us the direction to go, and it all just FLOWS.
In teaching a religion class of high school students, I once asked, “if you had your choice between a team of the finest basketball players in the NBA and a team of just you and God, which would you choose?”
There, my friends, is the answer. A team with you and God–and ANYTHING that you desire to accomplish, will get more done, with less confusion, with greater harmony, and astonishing speed if necessary. It’s all in keeping with God’s Rhythm.
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