The older I get the more clearly I see the patterns and rhythms of my life. Each recurring season I welcome these patterns back around with open arms. Some seasons of the year are more conducive to creativity than others. Some bring deeper contemplation (For more on our families winter rhythms read my new book, Good Winter). But some patterns in life are meant to be continual, not just seasonal. These, of course, include spiritual disciplines like prayer and Bible study, but I believe we should also make practices of more seemingly menial tasks. After all, it is in these daily routines that we really live out our lives. We also find comfort in such habits. As parents, JoAlison and I, want to make sure our children feel safe and loved in their home environment. In fact, the name of our home, Hill Hårow, means “Hill Sanctuary.” We feel (as I know most Christian parents would) that in such an atmosphere our kids will thrive and become more confident in the Lord and in themselves. After all, one day we will send them out into the world to do the Lord’s good work, God willing, and we want them to be ready to face it with the confidence that comes from a strong faith and a strong family.
One pattern that we try to maintain in our family’s life is regular evening practices. This time has been precious to us. It has brought a certain level of identity to who we are as a family unit. While brushing teeth, bathing and praying together are certainly a part of the nightly rhythms at Hill Hårow, the thing I want to highlight is the time that we spend reading together. This pattern began when there were only two of us. In our early years of marriage, JoAlison and I spent literally every night of the week forgoing the screen (smartphones weren’t a thing yet so I mean television) to read to one another. The discussion this brought out helped us to know each other better. Now we try to impart the same thing into our four children as we share in nightly adventures with Frodo, Eustace, the Lambent twins, David, Paul and even Christ, Himself — just to name a few. This time is dear to us. We have been known to spend hours at it. In order to instill a similar love for this rhythm in our kids, we have the bigs — Ethan and Eisley — read to the littles — Evangeline and Emma. Of course, we are not perfect in keeping with our beloved practice. For instance, when a new child comes along things get a little out of rhythm for a while but eventually, things fall back into place. It reminds me of a record needle holding steady in its groove on the vinyl, then something causes it to jump out of place. We just have to put the needle back where it belongs. I’m happy to say that this is the case right now — the song is playing fine. Cherish the daily routines that your family cultivates. Again, it is in these rhythms that we spend most of our lives.
I would value the stories of your evening rhythms in the comments below!