With the occasionally crisp, subtle coolness of September in
Virginia, my pace usually quickens just a bit in expectant hope. September
brings order — the order of days that follow along the tracks of a schedule,
the order of deadlines and appointments written in ink. I love order; it gives
me a sense of security. Order brings rhythm and rhythm underscores a family in
harmony with each other and God.
This September, the week after school started, I found myself
staring at a tangle of crossed out “definites” in colors as numerous as the
children for which they stood. There was no harmony. We had been walking in
chaos and the dissonant noise reached an ear-splitting crescendo. I shut it all
down. We completely upended our extracurricular schedule and prayed about some
new ventures in new places.
It was with great relief that I pulled out a fresh calendar page
and began to ink anew the pegs upon which our daily, weekly and monthly
routines would hang. In the past couple of days since posting the schedule, the
incessant, slightly anxious chorus of “What are we going to do today?” has
subsided. Each one of the nine of us knows who is going where and when, and who
is going to transport them there. That is the secular routine that gives our
time a certain rhythm.
There is a different rhythm, though, that is not at the whims of
dance drama or soccer shuffling. It is the rhythm of God’s voice that provides
the beat of our lives. We are a liturgical people, created to walk peacefully
in rhythm with our Maker. Liturgy is the cadence of a life of faith. Our early
September chaos was a clanging that came with being out of step with God’s
Of course, formal liturgies infuse the life of Catholics with
peace and grace. The liturgy of the Mass is source and summit of faith — that
union of God where sign and symbol, Word and song, prayer and petition, mind,
soul, and body are joined in union with the Creator and Lord of the Universe.
The Liturgy of the Hours is the ancient prayer of the universal church, the
Lord calling us to Himself again and again throughout the day and even in the
dark of night. God wants life to be a liturgy. He wants to press Himself into
every crevice of our days. He wants to be the structure and the order, the
scaffolding upon which we drape sacred rhythm. When we live liturgy with our
whole selves, it is the infusion of body and soul that creates a seamless life
lived for Jesus.
I had a colorful tangle of scratched outlines of commitment. The
scratches were of my own making. When I penned those dates and times in for my
children, I knew I was committing them to a place where the sacred liturgy that
sings in their souls would meet the noise of the secular world. Sometimes, that
works out just fine. Sometimes, we easily hear the thrumming of God’s heart
even in places not designated “God places.” But sometimes, the incessant noise
of the secular so out-yells the voice of God that we lose our place in the
rhythm of the song we want to sing. We had reached that furious din. It was
time to cross it all out and start fresh.
In the quiet stillness of blank calendar pages, I asked Him to
make very clear what His holy rhythm is. I took a deep breath and a fine-tipped
pen, and I created utter chaos in the lives of our family for a brief period in
order to re-establish the liturgical rhythm we hold so dear. I scratched those
things which clanged hard against His song and I asked Him if and how to fill
the blank spaces.
Life is liturgy. There is no corner of our lives that cannot be
holy. He calls us to be in rhythm with Him and He assures us that His order is
where true security is found. We meet Him in the prayers we whisper alone and
when we gather as a Christian community. But we also meet Him in daily chores,
in books we read, in conversations we have, and in people we meet on ordinary
God wants to be securely at the center of the day and He wants
the day ordered around Him. He exhorts us in the words of St. Paul to the
Romans, “I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present
your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your
spiritual worship.” Everything we do with these human bodies we do for Him. Everything.
Foss, whose website is elizabethfoss.com, is a freelance
writer from Northern Virginia.