Martin Copenhaver: Got Rhythm?

"For everything there is a season, and time for every matter under heaven." Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Everyone is talking about balance these days.  We want more balance in our lives.  We complain about the lack of balance.  We strive for the right balance between our work lives and the rest of our lives.  Magazines provide carefully balanced lists of suggestions about how to get more balance.  But, frankly, to me the whole concept of balance sounds exhausting, like balancing on one foot or balancing a tray of full glasses while walking on a rocky path - I can do it, to be sure, but not for long.  I don't know of anyone who can stay balanced for very long.

But balance is not a biblical virtue.  Instead, the way of life that is commended in the Bible is more about rhythm than it is about balance.  There is the rhythm of the week, six days of work and one day of rest, set within the larger rhythms of the liturgical year.  Jesus spent time in intense engagement with the people around him in rhythm with time alone or with close friends.  And then there is the basic spiritual rhythm of breathing in and breathing out.  Indeed, there is a "time for every matter under heaven," which is an ancient affirmation of the place of rhythm in our lives.

When we strive for balance it is like standing on one foot.  When we respond to the rhythms of creation, it is more like taking part in a dance-first one foot, and then the other.  Which one sounds more life-giving to you?  Exactly.


God, help me to know how to move my feet in the rhythmic dance of your creation, first one and then other.  And if I lose my balance, help me to pick myself up, dust myself off, and start all over again.


Taken with permission from the UCC's Still Speaking Devotionals. Visit