Monday, May 13, 2024

Liturgies, Rhythms, and Habits


I (Jeff) have been thinking a lot about the importance of the routines, habits, and patterns that make up our lives. On Mondays, I wake up, get coffee, help the kids get to school (okay, Jackie does 99.999%, but I like to believe I do something. Maybe look pretty?), read, get another cup of coffee, and then open my laptop to work. 

That worked well at home because it is engrained as a rhythm; there’s little weekly variability. However, we’re in the midst of a series of transitions. The month of May will be wrapping up client work, the kids finishing up school, and ending my volunteer activities. June will be a mix of finishing fixing things around the house, moving our material goods into storage, giving much away because we’ve accumulated far too much, and painting, vacuuming, and wondering how long that stain has been there. Then we fly to Texas for four weeks for training for basic training (I get to run through a burning building!) and then onboarding (vision and values). Then we fly to the Canary Islands for 10 days. Then we set sail for five days. Then we arrive in Sierra Leone. Then we get started.

So, transitions. There’s not an awful lot of rhythm in what I just said. It is pattern-breaking. Routines will change like time zones. Heck, my toothbrush will be in different places. It already feels like the metronome continually changes: fast, slow, medium, super fast, back to slow. 

Change is constant.

So that’s led me to think more about liturgies, rhythms, and habits. What morning habits do I want to keep? What weekly rhythms make me a better ___________ [man, father, husband, son, friend…]? Recently, I’ve been reading liturgies. Before, I found them sometimes helpful and somewhat interesting. But in the lane of constant change, I’m looking at liturgies differently. I’m viewing them as a guide and a way to maintain rhythm. To stay healthy. To live well. To foster community. To not take a “break” from doing good.

Some learnings

  • Liturgies are a beautiful way to navigate life’s challenges from the perspective of others who have been there
  • Today’s habits will likely change; don’t hold onto the practices but set up new habits. Savor the process
  • Though a night owl, stress the importance of waking early enough to start these transitional days well
  • In community, build new habits and rhythms
  • Plan now. Jackie and I want to have a weekly family movie night, one dinner per week for just our family, and at dinner, ask each person, “What was a high, a low, and who did you help today?”
But I’m not a unit of one. What about Jackie and the kids? Then, 60+ new Mercy Ships crew members will join in July. And we’re not even to what it’s like being a patient (or hope-to-be-a-patient) of Mercy Ships. 


We all live within habits, rhythms, and liturgies, whether we accept it or not. What are yours? Are they healthy? Are they forming you into a better person (daughter, son, mother, cousin, friend, brother, colleague, boss, student...)? Or are they deforming you? Consider.