August 29, 2005 – “Rhythm Replaces Strength”

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“Rhythm Replaces Strength” is a phrase I heard at church service this weekend that caught my ear. I may rephrase it as “Rhythm Replaces Force.” Rhythm in this context means the rhythm of the day – waking, eating, working, resting – whatever is part of the day – and the rhythm of the weeks, seasons, even lives. This rhythm isn’t monotonous as it may first appear for there are multiple levels of rhythms superimposed on each other. Knowing this rhythm – the right time to act, the time to wait, (sounds kind of like the beatitudes here) makes life richer.
Life on the farm certainly has its rhythms, particularly seasonal rhythm and rhythms of birth and death. Understanding this rhythm prevents you from doing the wrong thing or the right thing at the wrong time. It’s so much more work to force your way against the rhythm – it’s very possible, just takes so much more work and risk. I can think of many examples we’ve learned by mistake to follow the rhythms – like brooding chicks in May instead of early March. Like writing a business plan before opening an on-farm store.
I’m struck with this concept and the multiple rhythms that have been ignored and collided to nearly destroy New Orleans. The city built below sea level, the concentration of chemical and petroleum industries – had the Category 5 winds hit the coast, the scenario existed for most of New Orleans to be under 20 feet of water, and the gasoline floating on top of the water igniting to put the tops of the flooded buildings on fire.
It’s a useful thought to ponder, one that I’m not near to be able to hear all the time, but worth putting up goals and visions up against to see how they can be measured or achieved in rhythm rather than with force.

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