Rituals & Rhythms for Intentionality
With so many things fighting for our attention, how do we intentionally create space of goodness for ourselves and others? Join us as we contemplate what it means to focus on the things that matter as we begin this new year.
- Previous episode with Dan & Becky Allender: Rituals & Rhythms for a New Year
Dan: Happy new year again. It’s not quite a new new year, but it’s a, it’s still new. It’s a brand spanking crazy new year. Yes, it is. Well, as we jump in and, and follow from where we left on talking about the reality of how do we shape a year, uh, how, how do we shape days, weeks, months, and this year in a direction, uh, that at least by the end of the year, uh, we can say is Psalm 27 comes to an end that I did not despair because I believed that I would see the goodness of God and the land of the living. And that’s our desire that as you think about what the year 2022 will be. Again, may it be that there are just all sorts of good things for you, uh, your family, your world, but I think we can also say, uh, that 2022, uh, is going to be the year of midterm in elections. Uh, we already live, uh, in a world under immense threat. Uh, I think a threat with regard to, uh, the disease of COVID, uh, certainly, uh, bizarre and horrible flu season. Uh, the reality of that, I think there are multiple threats to democracy. We we’re living in a fear based traumatized era, and there’s a lot of despair. Uh, I just, uh, had a significant conversation with a good friend who, um, just got fired. Uh, and he, I won’t go into the details other than, uh, he is a really good man who did really good work, but didn’t resolve the heightened sense of despair that the organization he’s with, uh, has experienced and he’s being scapegoated and fired because, uh, I think because we live in a bizarre and wicked era, uh, and so when we begin to look at the fact there are threats, there is despair, and there is just an incredible amount of polarization, rage, self righteousness, contempt, blame, shifting, take all those words to mean it’s a mean day. So I don’t think this year, uh, with everything from inflation, to questions about who will have significant input with regard to governmental processes, all I can say is we are living in an era of overwhelming depletion, massive confusion, and what I would say at a very deep per level, for many of us, a lot of loneliness, uh, we had a taste of kind of coming back into community and then with Omicron and other disease processes, maybe a return to some degree, uh, of isolation, but with all that the year is not gonna be easy. It’s not gonna get better as much as we would desire and wish. So it becomes a thousand times more important that we do the work of creating what we can to bring rhythms and ritual with great intent of goodness for ourselves and for others. So with that…
Becky: Yes, I think it’s a turning away a bit for me away from the news. And I hear Jesus say, take care, take care. And they’re very, there’s a myriad of ways in which I can take care, not only every day, but really every morning, every afternoon. And so that’s where I’m hoping the rituals, the rhythms, the intentionality with my choices allow me to hear Jesus say, take care and also to take care with myself and with you and with our family and our friends. Well,
Dan: And start with this. How’d you hear Jesus say that to you?
Becky: Oh, I don’t know. I just, it’s just a, I just heard it and it stays with me take care. It means all of, so many, those two words, you could talk for an hour on what it means. And, um, and I think with that though, there is a scripture that I like Colosians 3:14, and the most important piece of clothing you must wear is love. Love is what us all together in perfect harmony and living with you, Dan, we are living really close together in ways that we didn’t have the opportunity really, to ever live before. And so if I don’t put on the most important article of clothing, which is love, our days are not going to be filled with care or with hope or with peace. And I think that’s an important, uh, direction where we have to stand firm and, and grow deeper roots in.
Dan: Well. And I think part of what I asked when I said, how did you come to that? Is both of us have at least something of the rhythm of asking Jesus, particularly at the beginning of a year, but it’s that daily process of asking Jesus like, what do you think? The capacity to actually hear Jesus speak? Uh, I know it’s a debate. I know there are people who differ, but I believe Jesus is loquacious. He loves to speak. He loves to speak through, uh, the reality of what could be called general revelation. He speaks through the word of God also has the capacity to actually speak to our souls so that we hear, but that requires, uh, two core things. One is time to ask and the heart to wait. So do you want to hear, and will you actually make no demands upon God to speak, but actually let your heart receive what it is? Impressions, direct words, uh, something that comes from a book, a movie, uh, a comment that somebody makes, uh, that’s sitting near you, uh, on public transportation. But that sense is we need to be able at the beginning of a year to hear what Jesus has for us. And as we each did that, you, you came to this category of care, be care-full. And I think the way most people hear that it’s caution, careful be careful
Becky: that’s right, but it’s so much more. I think, I think the scriptures say that our bodies are the holy temple, the Holy Spirit. And I think we’re taking care of our bodies better. I with zoom have the opportunity of 8:00 AM yoga, where I’m taking care of my joints, my bones, my feet, my wrists. We do things that keep all moving parts, moving and stretched. And it it’s, I feel the the commendation of God saying, this is good, ‘cause you need to take care of your body. So I love the beginning of that.
Dan: Yeah. And I would, I would actually say though, it’s a rhythm for you. It’s part of the ritual where you attend, you attune to what you hear the spirit bringing to you as you bring your body. into an engagement. I think there are some people who do yoga and, and it’s great. Uh, but I I’ve heard you speak and watched you and one or two times try to video you to put on, on, in Instagram and got a lot of trouble when I did that. But nonetheless, you know, the ability to see you actually breathing in and out, not just the directions, uh, of your instructor, but actually the goodness of God. So there is something about that
Becky: Taking that time. And plus I’m always looking out our window and oh my goodness, to watch the birds, the different birds, the seasons change I’m I’m like I start my morning with a cup of coffee looking out and I’m looking out the same way for that. So it’s really a time of being with God and creation.
Dan: Well, when I ask Jesus, uh, at the end of the year, what, what, what words, what direction, what thoughts do you have? And I can tell you in the past, there have been times where I asked that question and it was, I heard nothing. I just heard a gray dark sky. Uh, and, and then two or three days later, something may come, uh, it may have taken days upon days of returning to that question, but this was one of those moments where it came so quickly, uh, and I heard him say “clarity”. Hmm, wow. And it went really like clarity about he goes clarity and simplicity. And I must admit that I did not find my heart go, oh yes, Jesus. I, I live in a world, uh, of trauma. Uh, I live in an organization that deals with trauma, but also as a cost experiences, a lot of our own trauma. Uh, and it just gets muddy thick, confusing. There’s just times where I feel like I am planted in ambiguity, uh, and in some ways, uh, ambivalence. And when he said clarity, uh I’m like about what my future, about writing about, about, about, uh, and the word was simplicity.
Becky: Well, that’s gonna be hard for you
Dan: I, I wish you could see, uh, uh, my dear audience, uh, my wife’s playful and kind, but Moish face. Yeah, I think so say more. What, why do you think it’ll be difficult?
Becky: I don’t know. You’re very complex in, in thinking and in doing life and you, uh, you know, you’re, you’re a complex person, so simplicity right there is putting you in a, an unusual situation. Yeah. Well, I’m excited.
Dan: I’m not and I think, I think that’s, I, I, that’s a bit of a lie. I am mostly not excited, but I think there is something with me that goes, I wanna see what that does. If I truly believe he spoke and I do believe he spoke, if that intersection of clarity and simplicity, what might that bring in terms of choices? Yes. So as we begin to move toward the issue of intentionality, hearing Jesus creates then, well, what am I to do with this? How am I, how am I to bring new worlds to play in my world? What am I, what am I needing to let go? What do I need to begin to bring? And as simply as that’s put it, it’s real consistent with, with what Paul speaks often about. Put on, put off what you were describing from the Colossians passage is that notion of put on righteousness, take off unrighteousness, put on faith, take off doubt. So there is in many ways maybe it’s too simplistic, but maybe also the core of simplicity. What do I need to put on what do I need to take off? And I think one of the things that became clear is like, as a result of this surgery, uh, I come to about 2:30, 3 o’clock in the afternoon and I am one weary boy,
Becky: You’re sore.
Dan: And I am sore tired, and I’m not thinking well. So I think one of the things that has become clear that we’ve at least begun to put words to is we are not using technology well, we’re not using the space of the end of the day well. I mean, normally if I’m done at four or five o’clock I come back over to the home, I’m hang out with you for a bit. But often that’s when I then go to email and that’s when I begin the process of doing 20, 30 email to see if I can clean out whatever the day has had.
Becky: Yeah. It doesn’t really put you in a happy mood a lot times. Yeah. So I, I love that. We’ve been talking about four o’clock, five o’clock like put our phones away, keep the computer closed and um, talk, read, um, create, possibly listen to music, maybe go for another walk, just let’s um, let’s clear out the debris.
Dan: Yeah. And it, as odd as it is I in my office, I have rituals about how I end the day. Um, it, whomever I’ve spoken to, uh, uh, during that day, um, friends, colleagues, clients, I wanna hold them in memory. And then I want to bring the cross between that person and send back to them their warfare, but also send back to them the Spirit’s blessing. So there’s an ending that I feel really good about. I wanna keep that, but then how could it be that I go from my garage office about 20 seconds at the most into my home and that I lose what I’ve just gained and that is I’ve ended well, but now I’m beginning in a way that does not lead to the goodness of God in the land of the living, because I’m back in the complexity. I am back in anything but simplicity. So I think that’s where as I line the year, and I mean, by that moving toward, and that’s what intentionality to me is it is a moving toward what you know, will bring goodness to you and to others. Now, by not answering email, frankly, I also am aware I’m gonna disappoint a lot more people. Uh, and in that disappointment, I don’t know if a lot of people are gonna feel a great deal of joy, that they didn’t get an answer to what they wrote, uh, earlier in the day. But in that I think what I’ve already begun to hear, and this isn’t so much from Jesus, it’s just me pondering the realist of what simplicity holds is I need to be clear about what is my yes. And what is my no. Yeah. And to honor, yes. And not complicated by retracting it to let no be no, open to change, but letting those simplistic categories actually shape how I proceed into the year.
Becky: I know in which with you being a workaholic, now that you’re saying you want to no longer be that, that’s part of the simplicity. I think that means, all right, well, we go sit in the garden and we don’t, you know, are we, are I, I, this is what I say a lot of times go out on the hammock and look at the sky, feel the breeze, you know, be a human being. I think, I think we need to be a human being more often than in our head getting things done. I think that’s how we wanna grow our later years, whatever is correct by, and, and just that clothing of kindness, if it’s the two of us in a house, we need that clothing on for our harmony and our hearts and our wellbeing.
Dan: Yeah. So what do you think you need to bring with intent for this year to Be one in which you, you experience more of the goodness of God and the land of the living?
Becky: Well, I do, um, I know it’s important for me to be with people. So I have a prayer group that’s been going on for 23 years. I have a Bible study that’s been going on that long and I’ve joined a new book club. I need people. And I think a lot of this has come from, um, two of my dear friends within eight days lost their husbands, um, to death. And it was, um, it still shocks me, but it’s like, I need people. I cannot just be cloistered with you. And I, you know, that’s what I feel we’re called to be the hands and feet of Jesus to others. So I, I wanna continue that.
Dan: Yeah. And again, and as you think about what that brings you beyond the obvious communion connection, we are relational beings and we all to some degree have been deprived of the normal structures of being able to just have oxytocin. When we go to a theater to movie theater, I mean, the research is, uh, pretty darn clear. The reason people used to go to movie theaters is because the pleasure of watching a film with others increases our oxytocin, therefore causes a rise in our dopamine. In other words, just being with people who are strangers and laughing or feeling fear in theater intensifies, the pleasure of watching that film. So we’ve all been oxytocin deprived, which is why many of us, uh, have struggled with our weight, our are drinking or sexually because we’re not getting the basic dollop of oxytocin rise that we were made for.
Becky: And on the other side of that, we’ve become more introverted. So it actually is harder to figure out what shoes to put on or what clothes to wear actually like it was so time efficient to have all these meetings on zoom. You know, now it’s taking more time. So I think it’s not all easy, the changes, but it’s desire, but sometimes that’s what I need to, I need to push myself not to be so introverted.
Dan: Yeah. And I think that’s one of the things we both named is that we’ve got exquisite long, long-term friends, uh, from seminary, from college, from elementary school, from elementary school that not you, that’s you, not me, uh, that we, we need individually and corporately to be with in a way that the longing has increased to a point of almost craving to be in the presence of people who have held us, cared for us, been with us through the thick and thin. And I mean like four and five and six, maybe even seven decades. So that sensibility of, I don’t really have a whole lot of desire to travel. Uh, we’ve had that privilege or great deal, but if we need to travel to be with these friends, there is a sense of in which that needs to be honored. And therefore, even at the beginning of the year, we’re starting to be asking these friends, when are we gonna meet? Where are we gonna meet? What do you want to do? And let’s make it happen. Uh, again, there may be things that stand in the way, who knows what’s going to happened with regard to COVID. But nonetheless, there are ways that we can begin to hold the future with that intentionality to not let the last two years dictate and determine entirely how we will proceed into the year 2022. Any other thing that just hold for you as to this is what I need to bring into this year for the goodness of God to rise?
Becky: Well, I just think again that, um, take care, be full of care. Um, put on the clothing of love. I mean, that’s also for our families, our children, our grandchildren, which we haven’t even brought up that is part of intentionality, um, that, you know, there are so many choices we have to make to cut things out so that we do have time for what we want to be intentional about.
Dan: Yeah. And I think if we put words as aging couple we don’t have the energy, uh, we, and not just because of the COVID era, but we don’t because of our age have the same level of capacity that we would’ve had five to 20 years ago. So learning to say, there is a dying needs to occur before you actually die. Uh, a letting go, a choosing to say, I can no longer give myself over to these particular, either people or processes or problems in the way that I may have even, even 18 months.
Becky: Yeah. And that takes wisdom to figure out what to let go. You know?
Dan: Yeah I think with that, I would also say it takes courage to fail. So the, the wisdom to know what to do also has to have the other side to say, we know we have to cut things out. And I think the reality of saying, we, we are, we are going to end our day between four and five o’clock so that your phone goes off and I’m looking at you square in the eye.
Becky: It’s gonna be very different. We’ll, we’ll let you know how this works out well. And, and that’s exciting too.
Dan: Yeah. Well, and it,holds, again that prospect of, we don’t know what will occur by doing it, but we simply know that we can’t continue doing what we’ve done. So intentionality isn’t just toward the end of something good. It’s also a statement of, uh, of resistance, a defiance, uh, a hell no, hell no, I just can’t keep doing this again. And again. Well, once you say no, the implicit demand is you are called to say yes to something else unless you just plan to sit there and do nothing. No. So if we actually stop email, phone calls, texting,
Becky: Maybe we can write poetry together. Remember we did that a couple of times, we liked that. I don’t know. I think too, maybe it would be fun to do some art, you know, paint. I, I mean, yeah. Again, or I’ll do it without you. I mean, it doesn’t have to be with you. Right. I’m not thinking… maybe of course we hardly ever go out in the evenings
Dan: Well, yeah. But that, that playground of being able to go wow. Um, to paint with you would, uh, that would be ridiculous, but why not try, but where we played with poetry together, uh, particularly with, uh, a different Sarah Steinke who led us in a process of learning, write and write individually, but also to write together like that immediately.
Becky: I know we said we had tried that every month and that was two years ago. Oh.
Dan: Like, again, even naming that, it’s like, oh, how did something so sweet that we enjoyed get lost in the debris of our efficiency, my efficiency and busyness. So I think again, if I come back to what I’ve heard, Jesus say, simplicity, clarity. I still am wrestling at the beginning of this year, wondering where that’s going to go yet, just by you using that phrase, like we could write poetry together. And immediately when you said that, like I remember it sitting on the couch, each of us writing and then eventually reading and then laughing and then playing with it again, it was really, really amazing. Maybe even more amazing than hearing about your bizarre dreams.
Becky: Maybe we need to get a poetry coach.
Dan: Well we actually have someone who could fill that particular gifting and role. Well, as we come to an end, um, what we are again, inviting you to is will you spend even a bit more time asking what rhythms are part of your life that have been imposed upon you out of a sense of necessity or inevitability and what of those are, you might keep them, but they will be kept out of choice. That is out of intent rather than out of demand. And there something gets sweeter in and of itself. It just gets sweeter. When you say, well, we’ll need to get up earlier. If we’re gonna have a 45 minute walk, that means we’re gonna have to go to bed earlier and not do X, Y, or Z. So if you, uh, want to walk with your beloved, uh, and have a time to talk about dreams, uh, uh, the day as to what’s ahead and Psalms and pray, uh, I’m pretty sure in most occasions you can make that 45 minutes work for you, uh, and for your beloved. But what it will require is the capacity to say, and certain things will have to end for us to be able to do that. Can you bear the loss in order to create the gain? And if not, then it’s just gonna happen that you rolled into the year and what was, what will be, will then become your future and that, oh, gosh, I don’t know how to put it more bluntly. Uh, it is a hellish trap. It’s a rut. So we wanna disrupt the rut to create rhythms that have sweetness for you, but also to invite you back into the category of what are the rituals that you individually and you corporately with those you love create in order to have a deepening grounding, but movement toward awe and toward gratitude. And again, we didn’t talk about it before.
Becky: We didn’t talk about our evening ritual. That’s new. Did, is that what you’re thinking? Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. Since Dan’s surgery, um, it’s been so delightful to, um, get him comfortable and ready to sleep in his recliners, since he can’t lie down for a few months with his shoulder. But it was very difficult the very first night he came home, it was an outpatient surgery, but to be able to hold his face and kiss him on the forehead and pray for him has just become such a beautiful part of our evening each night.
Dan: It is. It’s like, how do we do that? If I’m not in a recliner?
Becky: I think we can figure it out.
Dan: I, if so, but the idea of having you bless me, touch me, my face, and then again, it it’s, it’s not to the point of annoying with oil, but that’s what it’s felt like. It’s like having the oil of your delight, running down my beard, that sweet image from the Psalms and from the Hebrew Bible, uh, it’s been one of those gifts where I, I mean, I cannot wait to get back into bed with you, uh, the recliner by the time I think I come to an end, I wanna burn it, but.
Becky: Right. But let me say this. You are a priceless man.
Dan: Uh, I don’t know a sweeter way to go into this year than to think in terms of to have the one I love more than anyone on this earth, the last me with being priceless, but also of to touch my face, to pray, and then to give me a kiss on my forehead. Uh, it is, it is one of our rituals that I dunno how we’ll do once we happen to be both back in bed, but it is something that, um, has been the sweetest gift of the last three weeks. And I anticipate that there is something about that that will take us to one of our deaths, uh, that there will be a blessing. There will be a face held and a kiss offered to be able to say, we have known the goodness of our God…
Becky: In the land of the living
Dan: May It be for you. May it be your desire and may be your intent and mayit be something you risk losing in order to gain.