We’ve been a rockin’ and a rollin’ again!

We don’t exactly jitterbug like these couples, but we are on the move! In fact, I’m writing these words in Indiana on the way to Ohio. Last week we visited Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa.

This morning we started out with breakfast with a dozen people who attend First Mennonite Church in Urbana, Illinois. They came out early for a book talk about Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets a Glittering World. Tonight we booked the last available room at the Comfort Inn in Berlin, Ohio. 

Apparently other people are on the move right now, too. It’s fall color tour time across the country.

Here’s my favorite Maple tree from the trip:

Gorgeous colors -- the rhythms of nature in this season

Gorgeous colors -- the rhythms of nature in this season

At First Mennonite, I was able to celebrate the newly-announced betrothal of my friend Janet Guthrie to Mark Jaeger. She was glowing almost as much as the leaves above.

With Pastor Janet in the first flush of her engagement public announcement

With Pastor Janet in the first flush of her engagement public announcement

Just three weeks ago, the theme I was living was REST. Over at Not Quite Amish I immersed myself in peace and simplicity along with more than 100 Mennonite sisters.

I think it’s possible to rock and roll and still be peaceful.

I would pick another “r” word to explain the link: RHYTHM.

It takes rhythm to dance.

It takes rhythm to rest.

It takes rhythm to move back and forth between both. Whether our movements are slow or fast, they can rest in the calm sense of God’s presence.

Some days we feel the rhythm in everything we do. Some days we don’t. What does rhythm feel like to you?

Shirley Showalter


  1. Elfrieda Schroeder on October 22, 2014 at 6:59 pm

    I love the rhythm of autumn in all its shimmering beauty! Your photo of the tree and then the two of you in your gorgeous fall colors are a perfect collage of what it’s all about. Rock on!

    • shirleyhs on October 22, 2014 at 9:20 pm

      The seasons themselves provide some of the best examples of rhythm, don’t they? Thanks, Elfrieda, for reminding us of the source of so much rhythm.

  2. Laurie Buchanan on October 22, 2014 at 7:19 pm

    Shirley — Like Elfrieda, I, too, love the photo of the tree — in all it’s autumn splendor — that you shared. And the photo of you with Pastor Janet is simply bursting with the exciting energy of her wonderful news.

    Clearly you have the ability to toe-tap a nifty beat to the rhythms present in your life; both dance (staccato) and rest (lulling).

    You asked, “What does rhythm feel like to you?”

    Rhythm feels like my heartbeat responding to any given moment. Sometimes accelerated with excitement; other times the cadence is serene. Regardless, I typically march to the beat of my own drummer, throwing in an extra tippity-tippity-tap whenever and wherever I can.

    • shirleyhs on October 22, 2014 at 9:28 pm

      Laurie, you seem to have knowledge of tap dancing, an excellent example of the kind of rhythm that drives life itself. My guess is that you have been known to put on tap shoes yourself.

      And the heartbeat is another great example. As is marching. I’ve witnessed you clicking up your heels metaphorically many times. I’m sure you do it literally too. Thanks for a great description.

  3. Elaine Mansfield on October 22, 2014 at 8:45 pm

    Rhythm and rest. I love it, but something tells me you didn’t jitterbug when you were a girl. I got home quickly after school in the early 1960s to learn the latest dances on American Bandstand with my girlfriends. Lots of Motown in my high school years. You inspire me to hit the road and learn better how to bounce between rest and action. Making plans. I love the photos of you with friends along the way. Congratulations, Paster Janet.

    • shirleyhs on October 22, 2014 at 9:35 pm

      Ha, Elaine. You’re so right about not jitterbugging when I was a girl. I did see a few friends cut a rug in their living rooms, however. And Stuart and I joke that we are making up for the sobriety of our youths when we took ballroom dancing lessons a few years ago.

      I do hope you get to travel with your book. If you come close to Harrisonburg, Virginia, please let me know. Love to meet you in person.

  4. Richard Gilbert on October 22, 2014 at 11:48 pm

    What a great time to be on the road, Shirley. Your appreciation and energy are palpable. Kudos.

    • shirleyhs on October 23, 2014 at 3:19 pm

      Thanks Richard. Too bad we didn’t get to southeastern Ohio this time. One of these days. . .

  5. melodie davis on October 23, 2014 at 8:38 am

    Interesting that you should use “rock” in your title (and this is off the topic of your post) but it caught me because I was kind of surprised in a SS class this week on pop culture and religion from the last 50 years, the teacher referred to our study book, Don’t Stop Believing http://www.amazon.com/Dont-Stop-Believin-Culture-Religion/dp/0664235050 The book says the “rock” in rock music was known as a euphemism for, well, sex. Supposedly preachers of the 50s preached against it that way. That was kind of a new one to me. I mean I get it, but the word rock was never quite on my radar that way. Others of you??

    • shirleyhs on October 23, 2014 at 3:11 pm

      I have indeed heard some of those sermons, I think. If you watch the video above, and imagine the social context of the 1950s or early 60s, you probably can imagine how alarming it was to even hear r & r music, let alone dance to it.

      I’ve been using the term more metaphorically, of course. But that’s the cool thing about metaphors; they can mean many things. 🙂

  6. Marian Beaman on October 23, 2014 at 12:36 pm

    You are hitting the high and low notes of the auditory and the kinesthetic from your alliterative title on, Shirley.

    Rest, Rock & Roll with Rhythm – they all resonate with me these days as I adjust myself to changing tempos both fast and slow. This morning I observed Patrick with his 5th grade class jitter-bugging in a show called Rock and Roll Forever. It was laughable to see fresh young faces mimicking the moves of our teen-age years. (Well, not mine of course!)

    I picked up too on the agenda of your road trip. Wow, very ambitious — and reminiscent of your train trip this summer. I recently did a post on train sensations and other musings: http://plainandfancygirl.com/2014/10/18/train-lovers-welcome-aboard/

    The sugar maple photo is awesome. There is one now shedding its russet-gold leaves in front of Mother’s house.

  7. shirleyhs on October 23, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    I’m eager to go read the post you linked to and am amazed, once again, by the ways ideas, experiences, and even words seem to appear to both of us simultaneously.

    I need to get off the computer and into the woods and streets of Berlin, Ohio! More later.

  8. Dolores Nice-Siegenthaler on October 23, 2014 at 10:18 pm

    Rhythm was one of the three ‘r’s’ I learned about and practiced in my 10-year career of teaching in a Waldorf school (and being a parent of two Waldorf children). I loved have an alternative to the 3 r’s of my public school education (reading, writing and ‘rithmetic).

    I love that you suggest (and experience?) a fast rhythm does not necessarily mean lack of peace.

    Three r’s in Waldorf education are: respect, reverence and rhythm.

    • shirleyhs on October 25, 2014 at 7:53 pm

      Dolores, I LOVE these three Rs. Respect, reverence,.And rhythm.

      I can remember these, and I will.

      Next application: when we are with our grandchildren. Owen’s teacher is doing such a good job with all three R’s. He is studying worms and compost at age three and is totally turned on. A child after your own heart. 🙂

  9. bkwmyn on October 25, 2014 at 5:30 pm

    It’s time for me to “dance on the tables”

    “As hard as I have tried to be good all my life–as hard as I try to be good even now–my heart leans more and more toward that which gives life, whether it is conventionally good or not. There are times when dancing on tables grants more life than kneeling in prayer. More to the point, there are times when dancing on tables is the most authentic prayer in reach, even if it pocks the table and clears the room.”

    ~Barbara Brown Taylor, from An Altar in the World

    • shirleyhs on October 25, 2014 at 8:00 pm

      Beautiful quote. I too love Barbara Brown Taylor’s writing. Dance entered my feet in my sixties ( and not with the greatest of ease), but it’s been in my heart since childhood, thank God. Do you know the song “I Hope You’ll Dance” by Lee Ann Womack? I’ll bet you could move to that one on a coffee table. Dance on!

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