As I sit at my desk enjoying pictures of familiar faces at home and the remains of a carefully assembled flower crown from a hike last month, I realize my gratitude for this new slow pace. I hail from an environment where all things go at full speed more often than not, and Semester has left me free to inhale fresher and longer breaths. Consistent practice of liturgy and peace-filled rhythms have stabilized my otherwise weary and full-sprint thought life. While some might find these routines pointless or ridden with religiosity, I have found them to be healthy and prosperous in the day-to-day life at Semester.
Liturgy finds its place before and after meals, where we read a rotating collection of 5-6 liturgies communally. Beauty can be expressed and realized as we take a pause from the hustle of family living to proclaim, remind, exhort, and confess. Simply reciting the liturgies aloud is a practical and hands-on way to redirect our thoughts toward the Lord, transforming the ordinary experience of eating food into the powerfully transcending, bigger-than-ourselves practice that it is. We are impacted physically by the food served around a table, which indirectly affects our hearts, souls, and minds in either a healthy or unhealthy way. Just as we desire to maintain our physical health, liturgies are an avenue by which we practice thoughtful and healthy sustaining of the mind.
Our rhythms on a weekly basis might look something like this:
Tuesdays are slow mornings followed by a “family meeting” to assess our interactions with each other on a communal level and to emphasize the uplifting of others. Its aim is to be the deepest and most real type of encouragement. Solitude after lunch acts as a space in the week where we are completely alone—surrounded by the beauty of creation, solo with our thoughts and the Lord. Some find this time intimidating, as they might extract their energy from the presence of others. Some might find it a safe haven of refuge for their people-tired body and mind, a time to recharge and reset. Even though I naturally fall into the first category, this practice has become one of my favorites while being here. Resistance of things comfortable and familiar can bring wholeness to broken areas and growth to places one might have not even noticed were in need of care. Walking back to the lodge after each solitude time, I feel ready to embrace the comfort of people, but I also find myself thankful for the uncomfortable.
One last example of our daily rhythms is exemplified in active time. A couple of times a week in the afternoon, I find great joy in playing a game of volleyball or some other type of sport down at the sports field. To engage in purposefully-scheduled physical activities allows my mind to be put at ease by enjoying the cool air, exciting company, or the thrill of a winning serve. I return just in time for dinner, not only hungry for another meal but blissfully refreshed by the bodily movement I’ve partaken in.
To express my thanks for the ever-present fortitude of liturgy and daily rhythms is a feat indeed. I cherish the opportunity to convey even a glimpse of the impact these practices have had on my time here at Semester. To those skeptical of a precisely-ordered, predictable life like this, I encourage you to consider how much humans long for certainty. While certainty in our lives at the expense of trust in God’s sovereignty can be unhealthy, there is beauty in healthy habits and the mundane choices that may become annoyingly repetitive. There is beauty in those choices here because we are gifted the chance to practice with our head,heart, and hands. I am confident that my time spent here will be etched into the framework of my life forever, and these simple, truth-filled choices are not mere “tasks,” but beautiful glimpses of eternity.
Ava Murphy is from Long Beach, Mississippi, and she is spending her gap year at Summit Semester after graduating high school in the spring of 2022. She’s fond of the beach and a good book, and she will never let a strong cup of coffee go to waste. Ava currently plans on attending college to become a child life specialist, but she is waiting to see where the Lord leads her in this reflective period this fall. Ava is excited to grow in many spiritual, relational, and practical ways during Summit Semester, and she sees this time as a stepping stone into the next season of life.