What is Rhythm?

One-and-two-and-three-and-four-and. The quarter notes, half notes and whole notes with a sprinkling of eighth notes swam before my eyes. I knew my piano teacher (Mom) was listening from the kitchen and knew when the notes were wrong or not in rhythm. My mouth grew dry as I kept the chant going as I played, piece after piece for a long hour. If I hesitated Mom would wind up the fascinating Metronome that looked like a pyramid on a diet. When the weight was moved to the right speed, it began to click with maddening regularity. That metronome wouldn’t wait for me as I interpreted the letter names, right fingering and the length of the beat indicated. Playing music seemed a hopeless endeavor.

I resisted rhythm in music, and loved a new word, Rubato, that sped up the music and then slowed it down to provide an emotional tone as opposed to a strict rhythm. Presto, very fast, sometimes was the best when I was ecstatically happy. Largo was too somber and slow for me. But each spoke of its own rhythm.

Beat, cadence, flow, pattern and accent of sound in music is the definition of rhythm. But is it just music? Curious, I began searching the internet for information. Perhaps that is the wrong place, although I found many studies of patterns in animal sounds, weather, seasons, the spinning of the earth, the tides of the ocean, the appearance of the super moon (a largo – every 20 years rhythm). How often does a hurricane, a tornado or a tsunami or earthquake appear? Who regulates that flow or rhythm? Can any government or man of wealth?

Man obstructs our vision of the sky. God sends the rippling melody of clouds and sun and wind that sweep the sky. Sometimes I hear the melody that accompanies the snow and the rain that waters the fields, for I see God’s glory in the skies. The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Psalm 19:1

Who regulates the seasons? Who holds our life’s length? Job 38 fascinates me as God answers Job’s question and mine:

4 “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? 
Tell me, if you understand. 
5 Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? 
6 On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone 7 while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?

8 “Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb, 
9 when I made the clouds its garment and wrapped it in thick darkness, 
10 when I fixed limits for it and set its doors and bars in place, 
11 when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt’?

12 “Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place, 
13 that it might take the earth by the edges and shake the wicked out of it? 
14 The earth takes shape like clay under a seal; its features stand out like those of a garment. 
15 The wicked are denied their light, and their upraised arm is broken.

16 “Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea or walked in the recesses of the deep? 
17 Have the gates of death been shown to you? Have you seen the gates of the deepest darkness? 
18 Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth? Tell me, if you know all this.

19 “What is the way to the abode of light? And where does darkness reside? 
20 Can you take them to their places? Do you know the paths to their dwellings? 
21 Surely you know, for you were already born! You have lived so many years!

22 “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow or seen the storehouses of the hail, 
23 which I reserve for times of trouble, for days of war and battle? 
24 What is the way to the place where the lightning is dispersed, or the place where the east winds are scattered over the earth? 
25 Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain, 
and a path for the thunderstorm, 
26 to water a land where no one lives, an uninhabited desert, 
27 to satisfy a desolate wasteland and make it sprout with grass? 
28 Does the rain have a father? Who fathers the drops of dew? 
29 From whose womb comes the ice? Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens 
30 when the waters become hard as stone, when the surface of the deep is frozen

There is a cadence in time that creates a flow and a pattern in so many areas of our lives – put into motion by God our Creator. Time, power and the seasons affect the very lives of all people. True, there are ‘do-overs’ with the 1st & 2nd endings. Repetition and Da Capo until we reach the Fine of music. Then often there is the Coda, the final melody or afterglow of the song. This is reflected in life. The Tulip Tree in all its glory, lifts its petals, painted in a stroke of pink and white, to God in praise. Then, one by one, the wind loosens the petals’ hold and they drift to the ground, making a pink jeweled carpet under the tree, a coda of color.

There is a rhythm to live by, that is given to us, that gives us peace…not as the world gives. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27.

There is joy – no matter how much sadness we encounter. There is hope – no matter how frustrating the events of our lives are. There is an eternal security – no matter how events threaten our lives and the lives of those we love. We embrace life and in Christ Jesus we have it abundantly – “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. John 10:10

Rhythm, where can we find God’s rhythm? It is in the rhythm of faith, trust and the knowledge of our Lord. There is a rhythm of gentleness, kindness, faithfulness. There is the cadence of forgiveness that cleanses; and patience that is repeated over and over. There is the self-control that counts “one-and-two-and-three-and-four-and” keeping us in rhythm with our Lord and His precepts. It is in the love that He teaches that flows from His heart to ours and flows to others in service that gives life’s meaningful phrases. Rubato of life creates an eternal melody in Jesus for an eternity.

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. Psalm 49:14

Comments? eacombs@cox.net