New day, new path

Breaking routines redeems the passage of time

Jul 6, 2015 by

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As I close in on 30, I’m looking back on my 29 years and the choices I have made. I wonder if I’ve done enough with them — enough exploring and growing up. I feel caught between settling into the patterned paths of adulthood and the urge to take my “last” chance to be irresponsible — to ignore my student loans while traveling the world or to open an Etsy store with my favorite hobby.

The mini-documentary, The Thousand Year Journey, is about Jedidiah Jenkins, who did that. He quit his well-paying job and biked from Oregon to the southern tip of the Americas.

“Routine is the enemy of time,” he says in the video.

Jenkins, likely reflecting secular society’s views, feels pressure to focus on getting as much out of life as possible before his body’s expiration date.

For me, the pressure tends to manifest in wanting to feel certain that I’ve done enough good. Have I made the best use of the skills, the intellect, the physical capabilities that God has created in me?

Jenkins’ “routine” criticism can still apply in the faith world, though. People fall asleep, he says. We learn a routine and start to live it every day, every year, every decade. We stop noticing and remembering.

But in the first years of life, as children, everything is new and remembered vividly. Every day feels fuller of moments, and time moves more slowly.

As adults, we tend to do the same thing every day or week. Memories blend together, and suddenly 20 years have gone by.

“Have faith like a child,” says the 1994 Jars of Clay song, (popular during my memorable, faith-formative years), presumably based on Luke 18:17: “Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”

Thinking of Jenkins’ words, faith like a child might be the kind where each day, everything is new. It might be the kind of faith where we question routines — church on Sunday, prayers before meals, volunteering once a month — and push ourselves into new spaces, new faith communities, new ways of thinking about church.

Surely, routines provide a backbone to daily life and faith, helping to prevent us from steering off course during troubled times. But when we blink and notice that 10 years have gone by without anything memorable happening in our faith lives, breaking our routines can be like a reset button, helping to make the most of the time given to us.

Summer is a time many take at least a brief break from their routines. Often we return from vacations, reunions or church retreats refreshed, seeing through a new lens. It’s an opportunity to hit the reset button, in our lives and in our faith, on routines that have become monotonous.


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