Wide Awake – Breaking out of our Spiritual Slumber
Wide Awake #3 – Life Giving Rhythms by Ken Shigematsu
“Prayer is less about looking for God and more about cultivating in an ever-growing awareness of His presence. In prayer we discover what we already have… Everything has been given to us in Christ. All we need is to experience what we already possess.”
God In My Everything, p. 66
“When we connect with others in ways that bring life, whether it involves inspiring someone to write a poem, welcoming them in a way that instills confidence, or teaching them how to throw a football, we are expressing our sexuality, our desire to give and nurture life.”
God In My Everything, p. 104
We have our rhythms, and there are rhythms that, indeed, give life.
Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day we got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.
– Daniel 6:10
Daniel was sent away from his homeland into a foreign land, where the aim of the people was to give him a new identity, to indoctrinate and assimilate him into a new culture. And, while he was made to conform, and even as he was stressed and persecuted, he had a rhythm.
Through his rhythm he is not influenced, in fact he is the influence – people around him have remarked that they could not explain his favor, not less than saying that he has the spirit of ‘the gods’ alive in him. We should have a rhythm to receive this breath of God.
“A rule of life is simply a rhythm of practices that empowers us to live well and grow more like Jesus by helping us experience God in everything…” – God In My Everything, on defining a ‘rule of life’ pp 18, 37
Ken proposes that the monks he learned from used the word ‘rule’ the way it was originally translated, as a trellis. A rule of life, therefore, is a trellis which allows us to be made more simple and yet more fruitful as we experience more of Christ’s light and life.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
– Galatians 5:22-23
I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
– John 15:5
..work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.
– Philippians 2:12b-3
Let us remember that the vine produces the fruit, and we are the branches – apart from Christ, indeed, we can do nothing. We should also remember that we have a role – to work out our salvation (not to work FOR but OUT our salvation). Building a rule, a trellis, is not a ‘have to’, but a ‘get to’. Not a need, but a want.
Ken shares how he practices the Sabbath. He finds it important to have Sabbath, to pray and to play, to get away from the have tos and go for the get tos, for 24 hours. It’s better to enter into work from a place of rest, instead of needing to rest from work.
Ken also shares how exercise is also one of his rhythms, something that gives him life. Countless studies show how exercise has so many benefits, including in our choices and in our thinking.
Another rhythm Ken has is meditation. In the morning, Ken would sit down and breathe deeply, not focused on the time, focusing on a single word, and he would find himself more focused for the rest of the day. Studies show that meditation for at least 12-15min a day for extended periods of time yields more self-control, and less grey matter dedicated to anxiety, etc.
It all may seem superficial, but it’s a start when we practice God in our everything. Of course, we would practice belief in the form of unconscious awareness of Christ in us and us in Christ, but there are benefits to establishing these rhythms as well.
Is there something in your life that makes you really come alive? If you do find it, it is, what Ken calls a sacred path, a spiritual practice for you.
“Self-care is never a selfish act – it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others.”
Parker Palmer, Let Your Life Speak
Doing something that makes you more alive is stewardship of the gift you have.