A few years back when things were pretty rough, I asked a friend how to sort out my life, I felt far away from ‘myself’, random and disconnected, my faith was waning, my spiritual ‘life’ was dry and dying.  What am I supposed to do next? I had no idea. His answer caught me completely off guard,

He said the ‘T’-word.

His answer, “your tradition will carry you.”

You are not an Individual

We live as part of a long line of people that have lived through what we have lived, and much worse. There is a collective wisdom we can tap into, if we choose.

Yet, our postmodern society tells us to,

‘find our own way’

‘make our own mark’

‘choose for ourselves’

We live in a hyper ‘I’ culture, I-everything. A friend of mine, Len Sweet, said once that we are so obsessed with the ‘I’ that we can’t even spell Wii without two i’s. 🙂

We are not individuals, we were all born as part of a group. We even have a scar to prove it, our belly button. We are part of a family, a culture, a tribe, a race, a nation, and at the very least, part of humanity. Yet, we seldom tap into this rich history, tradition, seeing it as antiquated, dusty, and irrelevant.

Is pain not the same as it was hundreds of years ago?

I suspect that it is.

We are creatures of habit.

Human beings are creatures of habit. We form habits without even thinking, literally. That is how the brain is designed, to find a groove and fit into it. It saves energy, it is safe and predictable. The more our brain can automate our lives, the better for our survival, or so the thinking goes.

The catch is we fall into ruts so deep they become graves. If we are not intentional and careful and design our own rhythms, the rest of the world will jump at the chance to give us a random routine.

Routine can be deadly, rhythm can be life giving. Routine, for me, is something that is contextual. It is something you fall into, rather that enter into intentionally. Routines are designed for you by your work circumstance, your family’s schedule, your commute.

Rhythm is deeper than that. Rhythm is the core of a song, and without rhythm there can be no music. Even though rhythm is predictable it is that which underscores everything we do, it defines our lives.

So the obvious question is, do you have a rhythm, a healthy life giving rhythm or have you fallen into a deadly routine?

If the answer is the latter, you need to change. You need to not just step out of the bad habits, but replace them with new ones. You see, we are creatures of habit, as I said above, we need habits.

We just need the good ones.

What am I supposed to do next?

Tradition is your saviour.

Here is where tradition comes in, your tradition will carry you. It doesn’t matter where you come from and what your background is, in every culture, religion, spirituality, there are healthy rhythms, that have been tried and tested for centuries. Our traditions, our practices, our spiritualities, have ways to deal with getting lost, hurt, and rejected

What does yours say, when you ask it, ‘What should I do, next?’ ‘What should I do now?’

  • Meditate each morning
  • Tai Chi
  • Make your bed
  • Drink a glass of water with lemon juice first thing in the morning
  • Exercise daily
  • Pray
  • Help the poor on weekends
  • Set one day a week aside for rest
  • Make love on Fridays.
  • Go for a walk
  • Spend time in silence
  •  Read your scriptures every day
  • Journal

and I could go on and on and on….

What would your grandmother’s answer be to your question? Just go and spend some time in the garden, go for walk, ask the elders? There is value in traditional rhythms, perhaps it is time to pick them up again?

My cultural and religious traditions have carried me far indeed, on the backs of those  that have come and struggled and succeeded before me. I am grateful for ancient rhythms that fill my life with meaning and edge me forward every day.

Your Turn

What is the best advice your cultural or religious traditions has for our lives today? Post in the comments.

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