To Live Freely and Lightly

Posted on: July 12, 2020, by :
Are you tired?  Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me.Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. … Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. … Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.
[Matthew 11:28-30]
Have you ever watched an ice-block melting?  Intentionally sat there and watched the transformation from solid to liquid take place?  It’s a little more dynamic than watching grass grow, though perhaps not markedly so!  

Many of us would lose patience with the ice block, would we not?  We want the process to be quick, immediate even – crush it so it melts faster, or, better still, whack it in the microwave!  We become impatient when change – in ourselves and in others – is not happening fast enough.

We can sometimes be our own worst enemy, our harshest critic.  One mistake, or one effort that doesn’t measure up to our own high standards, and we come down ourselves like a ton of bricks: I’m useless! I’ll never get this right! What will people think of me? Better give up before I make a complete fool of myself!

Our impatience for change, applied to ourselves, is a recipe for anxiety, ill health and dis-ease.  We would do well to ‘learn the unforced rhythms of grace’ as Jesus puts it in that passage from Matthew’s gospel.  The unforced rhythm of grace is what I see in a melting ice block – it will take as long as it takes.  That’s the way it is, and that’s OK.  

Maybe we can learn from nature, from creation, about getting in sync with the ‘unforced rhythm’ of creation.  Maybe this is the essence of the Creator Spirit – a gentle but relentless rhythm of creativity, of generative and regenerative growth; a growth that is often imperceptible but unmistakably noticeable.  Like the changing of the seasons: not abrupt and finite but gentle and indeterminate – when does Winter end and Spring begin?  And yet we know it will: that the bare branches, stripped of all but the most stubborn of leaves, looking for the world as though they are dead, will gently yet inevitably show signs of new life, green shoots giving birth to lush foliage to offer the shade we crave on those hot summer days.

How does this speak to the process of personal growth?  What does it mean for us to ‘learn the unforced rhythms of grace’?

I might be sounding like a broken record, but I think it means we can all relax – give ourselves a break, not be so hard on ourselves, accept that we are who and what we are, and that’s OK.  Let’s stop asking ourselves ‘why am I so infrequently the person I really want to be?’ and ask instead ‘why do I so infrequently want to be the person I really am?’  We are who we are meant to be at any given moment, so relax into the unforced rhythms of grace and learn to live lightly and freely.

One final thing needs to be said.  To live consistently within the unforced rhythms of grace is not easy – that niggling voice that tells we are not good enough, or not who we should be, or not doing it right, or not worthy, or not appreciated, can be hard to quell, especially if we are trying to do it all on our own.

Which is why Jesus’ invitation includes the injunction to ‘keep company with me’ – in other words, put ourselves in the way of the Spirit, make reflective practice and openness to the Spirit an intentional part of our ‘unforced rhythm’ so that our growth, our transformation might be guided and sustained by the life-giving Spirit.

Want to live freely and lightly? Put yourself in the way of the Spirit, learn the unforced rhythms of grace, and know that, at any given moment, you are who you are meant to be.  And it is all OK. 

David Brooker

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