Shifting Rhythms of Spiritual Life

Topic: Rhythm – Matthew 11:28-29 – Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

People know me as a positive upbeat person, and to a great extent I am. Every now and then, as in every life, my joy in life shifts into a minor key, and the light seems to go dark.

There is no explanation. There are times I blame some mystery of personal chemistry, or a variation in the atmospheric pressures. The darkness can certainly be triggered by an anniversary, especially the anniversary of September 11. The deaths of all those innocents, on a truly beautiful September day, confounds my spirit. I’ve struggled to manage the despair, but I find myself restless, ill-at-ease and living through the horror of that day again, wondering how “believers,” people among whom I have lived, could seek to attain Paradise by hijacking airplanes and crashing the into places where thousands would die.

These are not thoughts I can handle on my own, but I discovered a place which soothes my soul. I find myself seeking out the quiet serenity of our own Chapel of the Beloved Son.

Stained Glass in the Chapel of the Beloved Son

As part of Welcome Saturdays, we often take visitors into the Chapel, and all, like me, are taken with its beauty and serenity. It’s become a special place to me, a place I can go when the darkness and restlessness strike and I need a place to confront God in his own house. 

It isn’t pretty. The rhythms of my emotions are choppy. Sometimes I’m angry, and I ask God to give me some clue about why this (whatever it is) is happening. Mostly I sit, until little by little the chaotic discords of my dark emotions quiet. Sometimes I can cry. Sometimes maybe it’s enough just to breathe. 

The last time I visited the Chapel in misery, I couldn’t even imagine how to pray. I arrived in emotional chaos and sat as the chapel darkened, becoming slowly aware of all the visitors we have taken into this special room as part of the Welcome Saturday ministry. I thought of our old friends and parishioners whose remains are contained in the columbarium, and it brought a smile to my face to think of them having a very Episcopalian kind of party. I find, in the chapel, as my emotions calm, I have the freedom to let my mind roam; it’s a relief to stop thinking about whatever it is that makes me dark and sad and to find myself soothed and quieted.  

This November night, caught up in an event over which I had no control, out of the swirling chaos came a voice into my mind and heart, a voice that made me grin, because this is what God sounds like when he finds me in the Chapel of the Beloved Son.

“I’ve got this.”

Immediately, my balance and rhythm are restored. My peaceful rhythm is restored. I still have no control, and it is OK now, my Lord and Savior has everything well in hand and I am free to go about the work that he has given me to do. I can let go of the choppy, discordant rhythms and return to the coherent rhythms of trust and belief.

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Patricia McGraw

Patricia McGraw spent her childhood in Alaska, her high school and early adult years in Germany, and later life living in several Middle Eastern countries. Now together with husband Gary, she calls Pensacola home, living just blocks from her son, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren. She delights in Christ Church Welcome Saturdays, the YMCA and frequent travels. She is one of Christ Church’s background volunteers; facilitating the EPIC Challenge Book Club, reading at the 8:00 service and working with the EfM program and Godly Play.

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