A new rhythm nation

Published 9:34 pm Wednesday, March 25, 2020

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By QuaWanna Bannarbie

“QuaWanna, you are going to have to establish new rhythms,” she said.

This was the response from one of my very dear friends when I told her how tired I was at the end of the week last Friday. “This is going to go on for a while,” she said.

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I did not want to hear the truth from my friend that I call Sojourner. But she is right. I was very uncomfortable leaning into that truth. But after Gov. Ralph Northam announced that school would be closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school term, I realized that I had no choice. As much as I wanted to get back to my previous routine of doing life, it would not work anymore. I needed to establish new rhythms.

As you and I adjust to our new normal, I suspect that our entire nation will discover a new rhythm. This is pretty historical that the entire nation has been called to turn our eyes to the same thing at the same time. Do you remember Hands Across America of 1986? It was a Sunday when people from New York to California attempted to create a chain link of people holding hands from coast to coast.

We can’t hold hands right now to signify our unified call to new rhythms. People of the world today, are you looking for a better way of life? Are we a part of the new rhythm nation?

Rhythm is a strong, repeated flow of sound and silence in speech, music and motion. Rhythm also refers to our patterns of working and resting. How we set our priorities, our daily routines and habits in ordering our lives indicates our pace or rhythm. Often the changes in rhythm happen because of lifestyle choices we made on our own accord. You may have moved to a new location, taken a new job, began a new shift in your current job, you were married, you became a parent or added to your family, or decided to go back to school. All of these decisions require us to establish new rhythms. In these situations, we expect things to flow differently. On the other hand, it feels quite intrusive when forced to change pace without warning. It is uncomfortable.

I am still struggling to adjust. Yet I took my good friend’s caring admonishment, and I found a way to structure the lives of my family with a schedule, extension of grace to myself and to everyone around me.

Matthew 11:29 is a familiar scripture. Many of us know it by the translations that refer to taking the yoke of Jesus upon us and knowing that Jesus is gentle and lowly in heart. It seems foolish talk to be asked to take on more weight in order to be relieved of our burdens when we are already heavily burdened. The translation of Matthew 11:29 in the Message Bible is comforting. It reads, “Walk with me and work with me — watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.”

I was reminded that nothing we experience has caught our Father by surprise. He encourages us to work with Him and practice our unforced rhythms of grace.

We must stop, listen and pay attention to the signs around us. We must pray without ceasing. We must give time to fasting and seeking. Follow the instructions of God’s Word. Follow the leading of the spirit of God. Yield yourselves to the flow that God has established for you. Look for the rewards in the rest and work patterns that were not available before.

This situation of being sheltered in place has made it possible for us to seek the Lord while He may be found. He has made it possible for us to know Him more and to impart more to our families during this time. You can learn, do and act on things you may never have known otherwise. Don’t waste this opportunity. There are benefits in the new rhythm nation.

QuaWanna Bannarbie is an adjunct professor of nonprofit leadership and management with Indiana Wesleyan University, National and Global. Her children attend Suffolk Public Schools. Connect with her via QNikki_Notes or iamquawanna@thebiggerme.net.