Rhythms of Renewal

Yom Kippur – the day of atonement: the holiest day on the Jewish calendar. And it’s all about acknowledging the things we have done wrong, seek forgiveness, atone. That way we can be renewed as we head into the new year.

Renewal is our topic today.

We renew our magazine subscriptions, renew our memberships. Sometimes renew just means repeat: if you renew your appeal for assistance, then you repeat it. But today let’s reflect on the kind of renewal that is the opposite of that: renewal as what we need when we have grown stale from too much repetition.

Life is a continuous cycle of renewing, isn’t it? Every day winds down, wears out, and we need rest – and wake up in the morning, at least in some sense, renewed. Fatigue seeks the renewal of sleep. And when the body is tired of sleeping, it seeks the renewal of waking up and getting moving. A nice meal refreshes and renews us. At the same time, too much food will make us lethargic. We need exercise, working it off, to again renew us. Every breath in refreshes and renews, then grows stale. Then the exhale, returning to the world the air that, for us, has grown stale, renews again.

There’s a renewing rhythm of breathing several times a minute, of eating and moving several times a day, of wakefulness and sleep daily. There’s the weekly renewing rhythm several days of mostly work and a day or a weekend of Sabbath, of rest and recreation. Rev. Peggy Clarke and I are now offering a Friday evening meditative worship service. At the end of many people’s work week, this 45-minute service is a chance to restore, refresh, and renew heading into the weekend. This is a new thing – the first one was Fri Sep 18 in Hastings, and I myself was surprised at how lovely and renewing it was. The service alternates between here and Hastings, so the next week, Fri Sep 25, the service is at CUUC. Mixed into the annual rhythm are periods of vacation.

Many of these cycles of renewal take care of themselves. Yet in the midst of them, there can be levels of renewal that somehow got left out. Maybe your breathing is fine, your sleeping, eating, and exercising is all fine, you work effectively at work and you enjoy your weekends, Sabbaths, and vacations – and yet there’s something missing. Life feels somehow flat, stale, tired, banal. How can renewal happen? Many of us just recently had vacation and are feeling renewed. As one of our Journey Group facilitators pointed out, it’s around about February that we need to talk about renewal. Perhaps so.

We need renewal at various times – and not always on schedule. When we need renewal beyond what normal rhythms provide, what can do it? There are a number of things one might try.

First, is there something we need to get back? Maybe there’s a relationship that needs repair – forgiveness for whatever it was that strained that relationship. This, of course, is the kind of renewal that goes to the crux of yom kipper. Is there a way to restore right relations with someone with whom relations aren’t right? It may require working out a plan toward forgiveness – either for you to be able to forgive or for you to be forgiven. Our spirits are renewed by the restoration of relationship.

Or: remember that thing that you used to do – that was great. You stopped doing it because – well, who knows? Things just got more hectic, more busy – or it didn’t seem like it was all that important at the time, so you let it stop. But now, looking back, maybe you realize that there was a quality of life cost.

Setting aside time for some fun or enriching thing is also a path to renewal. Movie night, game night, walk in the woods day, quiet time, novel reading time. Is there some activity that used to renew you – and you could get back to? Is there something we need to get back?

Next: is there something we need to get away from – to lose – to turn away from?

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This is part 1 of 3 of "Renewal"
See also
Part 2: Paths of Renewal: Turning Away & Serving
Part 3: Sense of Place

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