Week 1 Day 1: Rule of Life

Week 1: Rule of Life & Rhythm of Nature
Workbook Exercise: Other Garden Plots

Watch: Week 1 Day 1: Rule of Life
What is a Rule of Life?
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Transcript of Video:

In this program, we are trying to offer people an opportunity to draft a Rule of Life for themselves.  So first of all we should ask the question, “What is a Rule of Life?”  At first hearing the word rule may sound inappropriate or difficult to some.  We have a negative reaction often times to rules and we don’t want to live by rules.  But when monastics talk about a Rule of Life they’re not talking about a list of rules that we follow.  The word “rule” comes from the Latin word regulari, which has the word that gives us words like regularize or regulations.  And a rule is a way of regularizing our life, of bringing order and an intentional approach to the way that we are living.  So rather than living randomly and just allowing ourselves to respond to the things that happen to us in life, a Rule of Life gives us a chance to step back and to think about what it is that we value and how we intend to live.  What are the values we want to express in our daily living?

– Br. David Vryhof


  1. Jaden on March 29, 2023 at 17:53

    A rule of life could help me right now with aiding my mind with its restlessness that stems from ADHD, with my journey to recover from trauma, and to make me reconnect with God and creation in a healthy way.

  2. Jaden M. on March 27, 2023 at 14:19

    A rule of life is a description of supportive gentle regulations of how I am to live in the present moment.

  3. Faith O on October 14, 2021 at 17:57

    I like the idea of the trellis mentioned in the video. Something made of enduring material to be there as we grow from a seedling and that guides us as we expand and grow in our Christian walk and journey on earth. I have leaned on God during different times on my journey of life. Prayer, reading my Bible, devotionals and spending time with church family has helped me grow but at times I sense that I am missing an important part of life and that is to rest a spell, soaking up the beauty of this world, and actual be better at laughing at myself – not taking life so seriously. If there is or could be a Rule of Life, for me, it would be to loosen up and look at some of the more modern picture concepts that artist have done showing Jesus laughing, smiling, and being with children. To have faith in God/Jesus like little children display, we can expect to be with Jesus after our bodies pass away. Children being themselves help me see God’s love and reminds me that God created each day f us to be able to laugh, smile, have joy and happiness just as much as we also shed tears of Joy and of sorrow. Sorrows and hardships balance each of out so we can mature and experience all of life.

    • Adele on June 2, 2022 at 11:25

      I totally agree and understand the idea of children leading the way. They are accepting, kind, generous and loving towards others, if they have a firm foundation and loving parents. The parents help shape and grow the children like a gardener. We all need things pruned and shaped in our lives.

  4. Thomas Martin Conroy on August 27, 2021 at 17:37

    A regular practice of movement or stillness, sound or silence, thought or clearness of thought, in combinations that lead to centering, focusing, receiving, or releasing, this is what I am creating and maintaining for my Rule of Life.

    • Mark Anderson on February 27, 2022 at 19:01

      This is a prefect description of a well-laid plan. Thanks for this.

  5. Trish Dorland on February 12, 2021 at 19:22

    A rule of life is a guide for me to yes daily so that I remain focused on my connection with God and the freedom to be human.

  6. Patrick James Cody on September 21, 2020 at 17:39


    • Chioma Nwaogu on January 4, 2021 at 16:22

      I just decided this year, I should consider a rule of life for myself and which would eventually become that for a community in future. I do not see it as something that will hinder me, but a function that will enlarge my life with God, others and my environment, as I look forward to becoming a person of substance and in good standing with my nature, as a child of God.

  7. Michelle on May 14, 2020 at 13:21

    A Rule of life is a an plan, based on life giving concepts that help build a holy life, that is, a life that honours the divine gift of life. The plan, or outline is structured in a way that offers guidance and support to live in line with the heart’s desire to find fulfillment and rest in God. It is designed with concrete intentions to make certain practices serve to order one’s life in a way that moves towards the end for which we have been created. Therefore a rule of life is a living plan that needs to be adjusted from time to time as one moves along in maturity and reaches goals that lead to new ones.

  8. Suresh Innocent on April 15, 2020 at 02:39

    A Rule of life is a support system that enriches ones life. Rule of life will enable us to be connected to the author life.

    • JACLYN SHELDON on May 3, 2020 at 07:50

      A rule of life is an intentional practice that supports a life-giving and loving way of life in the presence of God.

  9. Elizabeth Wagenaar on February 27, 2020 at 10:32

    My brain has extreme attention deficit. I manage to get a lot accomplished because I’m also a bit hyperactive. Besides, in my 58 years I’ve learned to cope.
    I have learned to put my keys on a specific hook when I walk in the door. My purse goes on the bar stool closest to the door. These two small steps have changed how I leave the house every day. Instead of racing around looking for my keys, I am calm as I drive away. Structure. (Yes, I’m a retired teacher.)
    I love my brain and embrace my spontaneity as it also results in thinking out of the box. But I still need that structure.
    When I nearly died 20 years ago from two pulmonary emboli, the doctors must have told me 20 times that I dodged a bullet. At that time, I established a rule of life that has served me well. Live like tomorrow is your last day on earth.
    I can see that now it’s time to add structure to the other areas of my life. I want to leave this earthly realm calm – not racing around, looking for my keys.

  10. Nigel James on February 22, 2020 at 08:52

    I like the analogy of a trellis for a rule of life, practices and habits that support the whole of life, spirit, mind and body.

  11. Richard Fleming Stutz on December 30, 2019 at 11:09

    It is my hope that implementing a Rule of Life will help me not grow stale in my faith life. So the Rule of Life for me is a healing tool in my faith garden.

  12. Juan on October 28, 2019 at 23:18

    It’s a way to bring/give direction ones personal-spiritual life

  13. Debbie on August 11, 2019 at 11:20

    A rule of life is a way to define what my values, what is important to me and support Deb me in living my life accordingly.

  14. Peter McFarland on June 9, 2019 at 13:07

    What really struck me was the discussion about the random nature of life. If you bounce from item to item in life and those items are by nature random, your life will be random and disarrayed. At the end of they day, if I pass away, I want people to say what I hope is true like “he had a good heart” etc. But really, I’d like to be remembered for standing for something. To develop core values and to stand by them so I’m remembered for having stood for those core values and to exemplify them. I like the idea of a trellis – the core values are going to develop my life and inform how I respond to those around me and how I deal with and respond to the random occurrences of life.

  15. Doug on June 2, 2019 at 21:50

    As an alcoholic in recovery I am drawn to two items, honesty and the serenity prayer: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. In my sobriety I have come to see and appreciate how vital honesty is in my spiritual journey.

  16. Daniel on April 30, 2019 at 19:55

    I like the idea given in the video of a rule of life as a kind of trellis giving direction and support for growth. In a spiritual sense, I see it as those disciplines or practices which guide is in a closer walk with Christ: for me, morning and evening daily offices, scripture reading, practicing compassion with those whom I come in contact through the day.

  17. Sonny McDowell on March 31, 2019 at 08:37

    A rule of life is a framework that guides us into a way of living that honors God and honors one another. It helps us to focus and to balance the means of grace so that we might move each day toward perfection in love.

  18. Elizabeth Smith on March 5, 2019 at 07:26

    A rule of life is a way for me to live with others and myself in God’s love. The rhythm of the rule works with both large and small things, the everydayness and the mystical. Prayer encircles this. The rule is
    held by, as the Benedictines say, ora et labora, both prayer and work. I look forward to digging deeply in the humus of life, to refine and rediscover new ways of living this one life well. And all shall be well!

  19. Anne day on March 4, 2019 at 16:17

    I plan to try and follow a rule of life this Lent

    • Donna on April 20, 2019 at 13:51

      How did you do?

  20. Pat Butler on March 4, 2019 at 13:02

    It is truly as so many here have described it.

    As I ‘live’ a rule of life (my habit for many years), I find it is that which brings order out of the chaos of life, whether internal or external or both. It is truly a trellis on which I as a branch can grow on the Vine, Jesus (John 15). I need the sun, the light, the water, the right trellis, and the Vinedresser always tending to me. I gaze at that strong and stable Vine, the Root of Jesus, and marvel that I get to be part of the vine, so do my best to cooperate with him in ordering my days aright, as the psalmist says.

    And it must indeed be a flexible trellis. As I enter a new season of life, I look forward to considering in community with you all what I must adjust, delete, add, expand. May we all flourish through this Lent to experience abundance and resurrection living at Easter and beyond.

  21. Patricia W. on March 4, 2019 at 10:48

    To me, a “Rule of Life” is that which governs the pattern of your life/living. It is an intentional, active, and in many ways a planned mode of operating. I find myself often ‘going with the flow’ of living life from one event to the next without giving thought to consequence, or considering how I might effect change through my actions. My thinking has been that a “Rule of Life” would be too restrictive, yet considering the image of the trellis as support casts a different light on that perception. I find an invitation to explore what the ‘regularizing’ of my life pattern might mean for my relationship with God. I often hold up before me the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:25) as desired expressions for my life.

  22. Bryan Cook on March 3, 2019 at 20:17

    My rules of life are embedded in the Lord’s Prayer and the Serenity Prayer. I say them slowly very day and build my moral code around them. They are both action oriented and reflective at the same time. Even if my family does not use these prayers, I continue to try my best to lead by example in my following that moral code. Years later, I can see that code coming through in the actions of my children, even if they have not always been exemplary in their conduct.

  23. Lisa Bartoli De Angelis on March 3, 2019 at 08:37

    A rule of life helps to foster a relationship with our lord. As we go thru our days with purpose and direction. Remembering when we dont quite live up to our own rule he still loves us dearly so we just keep trying..towards the ultimate goal. To live our lives in such a way jesus light shines thru.

  24. Beth Hewson on January 28, 2019 at 14:44

    A rule of life gives my life – structure. It is the framework where I “hang” the intentional activities I choose to do that will help in my flourishing and growing. The framework helps me delete the activities that will take me away from my purpose in the rule.

  25. Barbara on November 13, 2018 at 07:33

    A rule of life is my way of putting God first. Remembering that all I have is from God. And God guides me when I give time to listening, being still and reflecting.

  26. Graham on November 11, 2018 at 12:09

    The trellis metaphor is extremely helpful. Accordingly, I’d see a rule expressing four primary themes, regardless of whether or not it follows a given spiritual system or none at all.

    1-a rule should be an expression of the need to take responsibility for finding meaning and philosophical truths in life. Think of this as pushing back on postmodernism’s shrugging assertion that all truths are relative and indeterminate constructs.
    2- a rule should be based in humility, the humility to question received truths but also the humility to not buy wholesale into the myths of modernity, and the associated claims of uninterrupted secular progress where every human problem will eventually be solved.
    3- a rule should provide a framework for serious investigation into the natural and human, through both philosophy and experience.
    4- a rule should express a desire to work towards better understandings of all of the above in an active, not passive manner.

    • Pat Butler on November 24, 2018 at 18:43

      Very nice. I like the ideas you express of taking responsibility for finding meaning, a framework for serious investigation, and being active, not passive, in spiritual life. Thank you.

  27. Duncan H on October 1, 2018 at 09:47

    I appreciate the clarification about the Latin definition and the image of a trellis. I find myself often feeling like I’m “living randomly.” For me this process is about taking responsibility for responding to God with greater intentionality.

  28. Debbie Golwas on August 28, 2018 at 16:12

    My Seeds:

    Prayer — The Divine Hours daily
    Love — Remember God’s Love surrounds all
    Give — The gift of love to all
    Kindness — Treat everyone with a smile and be gentle
    Listen — To what other have to say
    Hear — Truly hear with the ears of the heart
    Respect — Be sensitive to others needs
    Silence — Cultivate silence into the daily routine
    Beacon — Be a light to those in need
    Water — The soul often through the Eucharist
    Honor — The body, inside and out with daily exercise

    I like to think of myself as a garden where God is the soil of my soul

  29. David on November 9, 2017 at 08:25

    A rule of life for me means a spiritual/moral/ethical guidepost by which my interactions with my fellow humankind and prayerful awareness of my conscious and constant contact with God can be monitored, guided and elevated to a higher level day by day.

  30. Richard A Dixon on August 13, 2017 at 16:01

    A Rule of Life is a means of regularising our lives, to bring order and intentionality to the way we are currently living.
    Creating a Rule of Life provides an opportunity to step back, to pray, to consider, what I value in life and to compare this to the values I am expressing in the way I’m living now.
    A Rule of Life would enable me to take back control of my life, expressing qualities I value but all too easily forget.

  31. Beth Wiltshire on April 30, 2017 at 12:36

    A rule of life is to get back to the basics and shed extraneous stuff. It is to listen to the voice of God and be kind to our fellow travelers on the journey of life.

  32. Nancy on March 19, 2017 at 11:42

    I’m thinking that in my faith tradition a rule of life is akin to a discipline.

  33. Sue on March 14, 2017 at 16:39

    Support and direction- so that it can grow clear and tall

  34. jean on March 2, 2017 at 13:47

    I love the idea since I am scattered and disorganized. I fear however, not sticking to it and feeling failure. All my attempts at getting organized have not worked out well.
    I do have a morning meditation of centering prayer that I have done for 25 years and that’s the one constant practice I do. But I am going to give it a try.

  35. Jaan Sass on August 27, 2016 at 08:01

    in the past a rule was a means to organize and become more spiritually minded. In terms following my adhd would get the best of me and nothing would be accomplished.

  36. Jaan Sass on August 8, 2016 at 12:44

    This is my second attempt to go through growing my rule. Sometimes I think that I am to entertainment and computer orientated. I struggle with focusing issues which of course leads to distraction and laziness.
    A rule for me tended to be a set of ideals and steps to follow such as prayer life and then praying three times a day. Most of the time I would set the bar to high and then give up.
    The garden example gives me encouragement it does not start as lofty ideals but is something that grows and is nurtured in are lives.

  37. Linda on May 12, 2016 at 19:06

    New to Episcopal ways but not a new Christian, but did not have these extra “tools”, “seeds”. teachings. I am excited for the following: 1) daily office lectionary BCP,lectio divina, meditation, contemplation, 2) learning all the psalms plainchant and singing to God hymns 3) Practicing the presence of God 4) keeping in remembrance God fights my battles and goes before me, 5) choose simple, modest appearance and price clothes and work toward poverty vow in managing resources, simple discipline in eating, really freeing!, 6) wear holy reminders to keep rule present in my mind and keep rule in attitude and share with others if they inquire (cross or smock), icons, soothing religious tv programs and art 7) nurture happy thoughts, avoid negative news that doesn’t affect me anyway,8) gracious speech, 9) kindness, compassion, lifting up others when speaking to them, 10) discipline in chores and daily routine. Thank goodness I have lots of time to try out all these tools/seeds! A fun, fulfilling journey!

    • Jaan Sass on May 29, 2016 at 09:56

      The questions that I have involves follow through. I can write a rule but due lifes circumstances or personal issues it is torpedoed. I. Become discouraged and attempt a rewrite and then drift away from it. How do I not become discouraged and write rule that is appropriate.

  38. Marta E on February 29, 2016 at 06:58

    Several years ago, I began to read the daily lectionary lessons upon awakening, thinking that it would “help” me. It has taken hold of me. Now I try to integrate that peace from God into my daily life, decisions, behaviors and thoughts. Thoughts from these lessons hold me up throughout the day (when I let them). They can be my shield and armor (if I let them), protecting me (from my own evil), soothing me from my own fears, guarding me from my past patterns, protecting me from acting out on fears and anxieties that get in the way of being with God throughout the day. I have added particular sayings and try to keep them with me in a little notebook as I go about my (retired) day. They can hold me “in check” like a gentle rider with a horse, in rhythm but not overly controlling to cause anxiety, etc. If nothing else, I can then return to (peaceful) sleep, soothed in the everlasting arms of God, to awake refreshed.

    • Linda on May 12, 2016 at 19:13

      What u say is totally true. I read the Bible for years with some change. But reading the BCP daily selections molds the mind/cleans or washes the mind.

  39. Donna on February 22, 2016 at 22:48

    Helps to be more aware and open to God’s presence

  40. Donna on February 22, 2016 at 22:43

    I see my Rule of Life as the intent for my relationships with God, others, and myself.

  41. John B on February 22, 2016 at 18:14

    I’ve recently retired and have found the first months of this time a necessarily unstructured time. I’ve called it my unraveling. But I still have a lot of time to live, at least I anticipate that. I recognize that work has been a de facto rule of life for me. Most of my time has been structured by the daily ebb and flow of work and also by the annual rhythm. Now I have the opportunity to be more intentional about how I structure my time. I want to do so in a meaningful way. There are a few specific things I want to do, but I also want to leave room for the Spirit.

  42. Margaret on February 21, 2016 at 17:21

    We are never too old for structure in our lives. Having a rule of life will keep me on track in all areas of living into what God wants me to become. I need the focus and daily reminders to myself and this trellis will help support me in my faith, family , care of self and care if others.

  43. Jeannie on February 19, 2016 at 22:55

    I’m liking the idea of the garden and the trellis contained in this series. I hope a rule of life becomes a more tangible definition of how choose to live my life and makes me more conscious of the choices I make.

  44. JUDY HULSE on February 19, 2016 at 16:04

    God wants us to know that He has given us a purpose to life. It is never easy nor obvious to discover this until we have gone thru trials and tribulations and soul searching. When we do identify our purpose, we should consider it a true gift from Him. at this time, we have direction and growth.

  45. Kathi on February 18, 2016 at 20:41

    The seeds in my garden are the family, friends and church family that I have cultivated.

  46. Debbie on February 17, 2016 at 14:56

    Keeping in the fore front how to care for those things that I value. How do I care for what has been given to me? What must I do to insure those things that have been given to me will stay with me in a way that is growing with me. There are things I will and will not do. What I do to care for my body. What I do to care for my soul. What choices I make always protecting what is important to me. I have a rule for just about anything.

  47. Bob Smith on February 16, 2016 at 21:18

    I look at the “rule” and see past “resolutions” that were either trivial or dropped. I am afraid of a rule that says I will be a better person, be more empathic, be kinder, be more aware. Can I do these? Keep these before me? Resolutions? Rules? (Bob, don”t talk yourself out of this!)

    • Alicia on February 24, 2016 at 18:03

      Bob, I appreciate your honesty & your humor. I also am one to make resolutions & drop them. I would encourage you to not be afraid of creating a rule of life that will guide you toward empathy, kindness & awareness. With God’s help, you can grow in these areas. You CAN do this, Bob! I hope you haven’t talked yourself out of it yet. 🙂

  48. Bob Smith on February 16, 2016 at 20:55

    Once a week I meditate with a small group. Once a week I attend Sunday services. Occasionally I participate in study groups. I am looking for a “rule” that will extend those spiritual experiences, spiritual guides into my everyday life. I want a rule that combines my spiritual and material lives.

  49. CH on February 16, 2016 at 19:29

    A rule of life can help me avoid my scattershot and undisciplined attempts to grow in my love and devotion to Jesus Christ. It can provide a framework to grow – with regular feedings of worship, the Word of God, prayer, instruction, and expressions of my faith.

  50. CH on February 16, 2016 at 18:54

    A rule of life is a pattern of living that keeps God in the forefront – to live according to His truth, to live to fulfill his commandments, to live in service to others. The Rule provides the structure to accomplish this, and to strengthen me and gird me to accomplish this.

  51. Dann Brown on February 16, 2016 at 10:42

    A rule of life can be intention and mindfulness joined by God in a trusted habit of prayer.

  52. Jan on February 16, 2016 at 09:44

    I would like to make a rule of life to become more active and disciplined in a weekly worship. I think the support and input of other Christians is so important to my personal relationship with God.

  53. Vicki on February 16, 2016 at 00:07

    A rule of life will give me a guiding framework. I often can’t take time to reflect or plan let alone listen for God.

  54. Becky on February 15, 2016 at 18:17

    I’d like to start with a self care rule of life. I hope to be able to say at the end of each day, “today I loved myself as God loves me.”

  55. Miriam on February 15, 2016 at 16:11

    One rule for me, perhaps the most important, is to be positive. My mindset sometimes forgets what a tremendously blessed life I have had. When I’m down there is little to do for others, or rather, I’m stuck doing nothing for others.

  56. Margaret on February 15, 2016 at 15:09

    I believe a rule of life consists of guidelines to help us order our lives and keep us focused. Much like the Gardner plans the garden and orders it with rows, supplies some plants the mound or stakes they need, and tends the garden by weeding, providing food and water for continued growing. Thus the planted garden can come full circle and provide the Gardner with food from vegetables and fruits .and perhaps beauty in flowers.

  57. Darcey on February 15, 2016 at 13:20

    I like the image of a trellis for a rule a life. A rule of life gives us direction for our lives and like a trellis many variations or choices are available which will hopefully lead us to where we want to go. A rule of life helps us to avoid inaction or stagnation. I also believe a rule of life can help us contemplate and perhaps avoid reacting to incidents. A rule of life is our game plan.

  58. Margaret on February 15, 2016 at 11:26

    “Rule of Lifes” should give me structure and a plan for operating throughout each day. These rules need to be positive and based on what I believe to be valuable and be truthful based on God’s will. Self-reflection/ assessment, physical exercise and healthy eating habits pull rank in my rules to establish a foundation. These things I can usually understand and feel good about. I also need mental stimulation, creative outlets and social connections. From this foundation I reach for God to guide me creatively and intellectually to be a useful person to others. Gratitude follows and so begins the process all over again.

  59. Rosemary Viets on February 15, 2016 at 11:16

    I need in particular to be able to focus on life on a daily basis. After the death of my husband, so many things have come blazing at me that my mind has become very scattered and focusing on one thing at a time is very difficult.

  60. Shane on February 15, 2016 at 11:11

    I love the trellis metaphors for how a rule of life gives us support and helps us grow in a direction.

  61. jcoats on February 14, 2016 at 23:04

    Apologises – we are trying to fix

  62. Eugene Wright on February 14, 2016 at 22:49

    A rule of life is a guide to control and direct ones life. Rules keep us in consonant with God.

    • Elizabeth Wilson-Dixon on February 15, 2016 at 11:33

      Amen. A practice I tend to follow.

  63. Chuck Griffis on February 14, 2016 at 22:19

    A Rule of Life is a guide for me to follow as my allotted days go by, until I return to the Maker. I travel through so much of my life as if I am sleep-walking, numb or blind to the important events, and over-wrought by the unimportant. I am working on my Rule, and I hope it will include forgiveness, acceptance, and striving for goodness while fighting evil.

  64. Paul on February 14, 2016 at 13:43

    “Rule” presumably also gives us ruler, as in measuring things, and running things. Although these may have negative associations, the personal rule of life also should have some kind of direction as well as measurement. Too, without a “rule of life,” one is going to be at the mercy of the bad kind of rule(r) who imposes things, or prevents us from freedom of action. In other words, there’s going to be a rule one way or another so you might as well have some input in the process sooner rather than later.

  65. Elizabeth Ann Nagy on February 14, 2016 at 12:07

    A method by which I try to live my life. I am 77 years old and I feel I have used up all my sins and have been forgiven by God and myself, but I should sin no more.

  66. CINDY on February 14, 2016 at 11:13

    A rule is a regular practice, a spiritual guide, which over time without our knowing exactly when, brings us into alignment with God’s Will for us.

  67. John on February 14, 2016 at 08:33

    A Rule of Life puts limits on me but, these are useful limits that keep me from wasting my time on unprofitable things.

  68. Debbie McMahon on February 14, 2016 at 08:16

    A plan to live into my potential for the glory of god

  69. Stu on February 14, 2016 at 08:06

    This is program is wonderful! Simples rules are a skillful means of managing the growing complexity of life. I think of the seven “habits” by Steven Covey as seven “rules”. I am really forward to this experience.

  70. Jane Nash on February 13, 2016 at 22:23

    It is the one “rule” /belief that informs everything ( or I try to make it everything) that I do. But this is so much more challenging than I ever imagined.

  71. Sophfronia on February 13, 2016 at 20:56

    A rule of life can be a powerful guide for decision-making. I have a couple of opportunities on the table that I’m not sure are aligned with how I want to live. I’m looking forward to developing my rule of life in hopes that it will help me make such determinations.

  72. Katherine Cash on February 13, 2016 at 20:28

    Listening to your video, it brings me to think that a “rule of life” is the framework, including guidelines and their interactions that, when followed or referred back to, will facilitate our bringing to fruition our vision and our mission. With a Godly vision and mission, our rule of life guides us into a full and rewarding Godly life here on earth, for ourselves and for those whose lives we touch.

  73. Winifred on February 13, 2016 at 18:18

    My name is my honor –

  74. Tal Day on February 13, 2016 at 16:42

    As part of this Lenten exercise, I have added a “Creating Rule” tab to a digital notebook that I have been keeping for a number of years. Other tabs in the notebook are my ongoing reflections on faith, notes on recipes and cuisines, and research pertinent to “mental fitness”, physical fitness and training, mindful diet, aging, genetics and evolution, and our microbiome.

    Further, the tabs in that one notebook are distinct from tabs in other notebooks that keep track of activities and ideas that I have about things that I am undertaking in one way or another.

    With regard to prayer and faith, I have found Bishop Griswold’s book on prayer and Chloe Breyer’s book on her first year at seminary and the challenge of developing a prayer life both helpful. Neither of these resources, however, points toward creating a prayer “rule”, but rather searching out how prayer rises within and finds expression — and accepting that: “praying as one can, and not as one ought”.

    I am going through this exercise now because it is an opportunity to integrate and consider further within a framework matters that I have given a lot of attention over the years.

  75. Tal Day on February 13, 2016 at 15:59

    I have difficulty thinking of a rule as something distinct from thinking about purpose and calling.

    The metaphor of a trellis is certainly powerful, but it implies a rule that is static and fixed. As a lawyer who has worked with administrative regulations and had a bankruptcy practice, much of the work that calls for lawyers as opposed to bureaucrats is figuring out principles for making exceptions to rules and for creating space for judgment and creativity within a set of bounds.

    The search for principled exceptions to rules arises when the goals the rules are supposed to support cannot be realized in some set of circumstances, or changed circumstances, through strict adherence to the rules. The wicked problem of climate change is such a dilemma on a grand scale.

    I wonder if there is a dynamic metaphor that could be invoked. Perhaps not.

    • John B on February 19, 2016 at 15:18

      So nice to encounter another lawyer. I share your view that lawyering, in the best sense, is about finding principled exceptions to the rules. Aristotle said that equity is required where law fails because of its generality. I think that much of our resistance to rules arises because of the overly positivistic way we have thought about law for the last century or so. In developing a personal rule I feel we need to recognize that for the life of faith laws/rules/commandments carry within them God’s love and mercy. God’s purpose in giving us laws is to support us not control us. Even God cannot write laws that cover every situation, sometimes they need to be rethought when strict application results in an outcome contrary to what the law intended.

  76. Bobbi on February 13, 2016 at 15:56

    I just turned 76 so I feel my rule must start with my overriding purpose. I am hearing that I am to live into Jesus’ commandment—to love God with all my heart, soul, and mind, and love my neighbor as myself—not as one of the guiding principles in my life but as the overriding rule of my life.

    • Muriel Akam on February 14, 2016 at 10:34

      I am in my early sixties but share your ‘rules of life’ as our dear Lord taught us. Love our Father with all our hearts and love our neighbours as ourselves and I look for daily guidance in how to put this into pracitce.
      I try to show my love by doing my best in helping others .
      From this sermon I will see this more as a supporting structure rather than a ‘rule’.

  77. Barb on February 13, 2016 at 14:04

    I try to do two things.
    1. Do unto others as I would have them do unto me.
    2. Live each day to its fullest in a positive way.

  78. Carney Ivy on February 13, 2016 at 13:50

    When I think of a Rule of Life, I think of my relationships in life. Are they balanced or not? This applies to my relationship with work, family, my husband, friends, food and drink, exercise and my spiritual time. If I have a rule of life that I can follow, I can more easily attend to my needs and the needs of others and live more intentionally.

  79. Polly Chatfield on February 13, 2016 at 10:20

    To me a rule of life is a way of entwining and fostering the life of the mind and the life of the heart in Christ Jesus.

  80. Betty on February 13, 2016 at 10:13

    Values I want to express in my daily living are trustworthiness, honesty, vivaciousness, acceptance and peace.

  81. Ruth West on February 12, 2016 at 21:42

    Wow! What significant responses you have gotten from your good homily! I loved reading all of them. Thanks to you, and to all those who wrote in response.
    Two words come to my mind which I am adopting as my rule of life this Lent: stability and consistency. I want to be more like my Christ living the life and walking His way day by day.

  82. gwedhen nicholas on February 12, 2016 at 14:36

    A rule of life is something that one uses as a support and guide each day. It helps one to know the gifts we have been given, and to use them to grow into the people God intended us to be before creation. It gives boundaries and disciplines which can help us make the right choices each day, and keeps us from spiritual laziness and torpor. Ultimately it gives us God Himself, or rather He is able to give us Himself so that we can love and be loved; both God and our neighbours, ourselves too.

  83. Bertita Graebner on February 12, 2016 at 10:25

    Friday, Februray 12, 2016 — Reply Comments to Day One — This topic / ordering life / is very much of the moment for me as I am doing that very thing — reordering my waking/walking(life)/&sleepining patterns. Knowing apporximately 21 days are needed to re-set an habit, I am listening to this winter time of snoozing hybernation – a time for incubating the thought capative I was and setting myself to re-emerge in rythmn with age and stage and dreams in tact and ready for the promise of spring.

    This Lenten Practice – is a good help along this dreampath into a reality living into the promise and the possibility of what can be now.
    Thanks to each for their thought & contribution to mine.

  84. Rachel on February 12, 2016 at 00:10

    A rule of life is guiding mechanism within one’s life to bring guidance and direction.

  85. Kate on February 11, 2016 at 16:40

    I am overly busy, allowing external demands to pull me this way and that. It is my hope that working on a rule will create structure, and a method to judge more clearly which activities are worthwhile.

  86. Lezlie on February 11, 2016 at 15:27

    I am ADHD and fragmented by nature. I dream of a great many things, but I lack of structure and discipline. My life is full of starts, stops and do overs. I hope this course will help me develop a framework and a way forward in finding the peace of mind that I am living the purposeful life I desire.

    • Susie on February 18, 2016 at 12:08

      I definitely relate to what you’ve said, sister. Sometimes all those voices in my head get the best of me too. Though I’ve learned to be thankful for them at times and live more peacefully with my ADD tendencies as I age, structure is definitely needed.

  87. Alice on February 11, 2016 at 09:18

    To live in harmony with God and his creation.

  88. anne on February 11, 2016 at 07:54

    A framework for living life intentionally.

  89. Rocky on February 11, 2016 at 01:08

    I need this in my life.

  90. Sally Baynton on February 10, 2016 at 22:34

    I am going to use this study to build on the progress that I made during the last Lenten Series on time. This past year, I have been acutely aware of how I use my time. I am deliberate in the things I choose to give my time to. When asked to do something, I think to myself, “What do I have to give up in order to do this new thing?” If I feel like I need to do “such and such,” I will find something in my life that I can and will give up. Otherwise, I just won’t do it. This year, I am so excited about the idea of a “rule” as a means to help me grow to be what I am meant to be. Rather than being constricting, as most of us consider rules to be, this is the most freedom I have ever felt as I journey toward that place where I am naturally drawn to all things holy and perfect. Nature is a PERFECT place to look for that. St. Paul writes that even people who have never heard the gospel must know it because of the beauty of nature. I wish I could go on….I won’t. However, I will say I am enthusiastic about examining the garden of my life; seeing what is flourishing and seeing what is not flourishing. Then, letting God prune away as His had is never closer!

    • John B on February 19, 2016 at 15:09

      Your excitement about developing a rule brings to mind Psalm 119 which is a psalm of praise to the law in every verse. It sounds paradoxical in our modern era with its emphasis on freedom and personal autonomy but rules can actually free us from slavery to impulsive and instinctive decisions. Rules free us to discern God’s call and give us the discipline to make the choices which will serve our deepest desires, which often require time and nurturing.

  91. JV on February 10, 2016 at 22:16

    A rule of life is a support and a comfort. I say “comfort” because, once established is it an additional encouragement to keep a person/me on a path, with a stronger will than previous to having the rule(s).

  92. Andrea Morrison on February 10, 2016 at 18:51

    I think that a Rule of Life could be something as simple as living by God’s word, and following by his example.

  93. William Spies on February 10, 2016 at 18:28

    I want to find this guide and obtain God’s support for my life so this learning series seems to be right on the mark for me. I hope to learn and later to share though my new guide to Beloved living with friends and family.

  94. Christopher Buckley on February 10, 2016 at 14:37

    I love the Latin word, “regula”.

    When I first encountered it, it was defined as a “ruler” or a “yardstick”, used to measure progress. As a woodworker, the first, middle, and last tool I reach for on my workbench is a sturdy steel straightedge – with increments engraved in it down to 1/32nd of an inch.

    But a yardstick, a ruler – well, it’s static. It’s inorganic. It’s cold, calculating, impartial. Sure, it’s accurate, and that’s a very good thing – but as I grow, I’m less and less of the opinion that the Way of Jesus is particularly interested in accuracy, specificity, and “measuring up”.

    So, I’m grateful for the Brothers’ description of a Rule of Life as a trellis, a beanpole, a framework on which the tendrils, shoots, vines and (hopefully) fruit of a Life of Love can hang – supported and nurtured.

    Here’s to an organic, messy, dirt-under-our-fingernails sort of Lent.


    • Penelope on February 11, 2016 at 14:30

      How well expressed!

      I guess the analogy of the trellis makes the plant one that is in a garden, not in the “wild,” one that is in the care of someone who has placed the trellis so that the plant can grow to its best potential. And the plant then might be something we have selected for our garden, something we value and admire and place with intentionality. And if that plant is represents our values, there is the sense that we have to care for those values.

      a wandering mind.

  95. Marcy on February 10, 2016 at 11:34

    This brought to mind the chipmunks when I lived in the Pacific Northwest. Getting fat in summer. Gathering acorns and nuts for winter, they had a plan, an order to their lives. I live in Florida now and the squirrels are always running, eating, and gathering. There doesn’t appear to be a plan for winter, or cold, or anything, they just are. I have become a Florida squirrel. I spent 20+ years in the military and I had a few rules of life, but now I am a Florida squirrel living in organized chaos. A heap of vines on the ground. I am looking forward to this Lenten lesson to perhaps become a Pacific Northwest Chipmunk again. 🙂

    • Bertita Graebner on February 12, 2016 at 11:10

      So wonderfully said! In the midwest, we had 13 stripped chipmunks (a.k.a., as thirteen lined ground squirrels/ striped gophers)— was a great pleasure to my father to watch them through the window scurrying about gathering and keeping to the rule of seasonally caring for themselves.
      Your metaphors are delightful and true. I plan to adpot them for those that need to hear your analogy. Thanks.

  96. Chris on February 10, 2016 at 10:43

    I do enjoy times to be thoughtful, as my life is not one that offers many such. My current “rule” is, be the best “peanut butter and jelly” I can. I’m an aging sandwich caregiver, with a needful adult child at home, and a mother and m-i-l both needing care of differing types and intensities. I also enjoy serving in a few ministries at my church, not to mention using my musical talents to hopefully earn some money. I hope to use this Lenten study to learn how to give myself the fences and trellises that I feel I so desperately need.
    I see that I have used “need” quite a number of times. That’s someplace to start!

  97. Linda Jones on February 10, 2016 at 09:53

    I like this introduction to the rule of life. I especially like the analogy of the trellis; that makes so much sense to me and helps me to understand that spiritual growth does require support from God, of course, but also from community, and of course from the rule itself. I am grateful for this opportunity to participate this Lent and look forward to all I can learn, how much I can grow.

  98. Bob Stains on February 10, 2016 at 07:27

    I want more freedom from “the 10,000 things” pulling me in all directions. I realize that in order to more fully embrace Jesus, I need to let go of other things. I also want to be more faithful in my prayer life, more attentive to my relationships and more intentional about the choices I make in living my life. I think creating and observing a rule will help me to “let go and let come.”

    • Chris on February 10, 2016 at 10:44


  99. Maida Broudo on February 10, 2016 at 07:07

    I love starting my day with the readings from the Ordo, and a walk in the woods and meditation. If I can do those things and pray at each tiny grace or each challenge, them I feel whole. It is when I live in my head and not my heart that I get into trouble.

  100. adriane tasco on February 9, 2016 at 20:28

    i guess my rule (before i knew it to be so) is forgiveness and service. I look forward to the focus and direction the discipline will bring to my life.

  101. Chris Arnold on February 9, 2016 at 12:28

    I have lived under a Rule of Life for a decade now. I find that it needs to be concrete, practical, simple, reasonable, and repeatable. I need to be able to reach the end of the day and ask myself “did I stick to my Rule today, and if not, what needs to shift?”

    • Deborah on February 12, 2016 at 00:28

      Good advice! Thanks.

  102. Deborah on February 9, 2016 at 02:26

    I know the theory, but right now the reality of a pattern, a ‘rule’ of life is like a distant hope. I want so much to feel a regularity to my life, to spend time with God. But instead I lurch from one thing to the next, always reacting, never really flowing. Feels a bit like ‘The Last Chance Cafe’ for me at the minute…..I hope to find peace with God…and a rule for life..this Lent…..peace be with you.

    • Chris on February 10, 2016 at 10:45

      I’m right in here with you, Deborah 🙂

  103. Tina Finnerty on February 8, 2016 at 23:10

    Having gone through an emotionally and spiritually challenging experience a few months ago, a rule of life will definitely help me refocus my energies and deepen my relationship with God.

  104. Carol Ward on February 8, 2016 at 17:11

    I’m thinking that a rule of life provides us with the method & means to order our life. As a gardener when I hear the word trellis, I think of the many ways that I support my plants in the garden. You can use a pole, a metal frame, a fabric or string, a wooden stick, an old pair of panty hose, almost anything, that provides support to plants. It seems to me that people are as varied as plants & need many different forms of support.

    • Catherine on February 15, 2016 at 12:29

      Thanks. I like your list of possible trellis materials and the idea that we all need various forms of support. I plan to share your comment with the Rule of Life class in our parish.

    • Susie on February 18, 2016 at 11:42

      Good point

  105. David Andrews on February 8, 2016 at 09:03

    I look forward to beginning this journey and members of the parish I serve will be taking the journey as well and growing a rule of life. I was at SSJE last week on retreat and began to prepare by reflecting on my personal rule of life: daily prayer, daily scripture reading( The Bible Challenge), meditation and spiritual reading( The journal of Thomas Merton). For me a rule of life is a process and includes moments of consolation and desolation.

  106. Shirley Schuette on February 8, 2016 at 00:26

    I have signed up to do the study for Lent. I have read in the past about developing a rule of life, and I am aware of the structure of the liturgical hours. I like the metaphor about the trellis, the arbor, with the rule providing the support so that healthy growth can happen. I’ve seen gardens where tomatoes weren’t properly supported, and there is less fruit, and what does grow gets rotten from being on the ground. Without healthy fruit, there also won’t be enough seeds for the next season. I am entering a new season in my life – near retirement and all the change that means, as well as other changes in my life right now. I am hopeful that focusing on this study will help give me structure for my post-retirement life.

    • John B on February 19, 2016 at 14:59

      I too am entering retirement. For the first 6 or so months post-retirement I lived like those plants that collapsed in a heap without support. I needed a break from the rule imposed by my career. Now I need to design/discern the rule by which I will be guided going forward. If I stay in this heap I fear i will begin to decompose, but I believe I can still bear fruit with proper support.

  107. Patrice OConnor on February 7, 2016 at 14:54

    Being true to life’s lesson learned thru experience and guidance

  108. Margo on February 7, 2016 at 07:15

    As I begun my rule is very simple.
    1. Do the things of the church
    2. View everything and every one with eye of compassion. This is the most difficult . Compassion for one can be judgement for another.
    “Comfort the afflicted but afflict the comfortable:”
    Can make for very uncomfortable living.
    3. Live more simply that others may simply live.
    I look forward to being stretched and transformed!

  109. Annmarie on February 7, 2016 at 06:43

    To have patience with others and to forgive.

  110. Joanne on February 6, 2016 at 13:14

    Rule helpful to prevent scattering my energies.

  111. Pete on February 3, 2016 at 19:58

    I can see having specific thoughts in mind, or rules for life are an asset, hoping to conform us to the image of Christ. Asking the help of God to actually live it out. Here are our 4 for now:
    Take every thought captive
    Do to others as you would have them do to you
    Love does no harm to its neighbor therefore it is the fulfillment of the law.
    Judge not lest he be judged.

  112. Stewart on February 3, 2016 at 11:22

    I try and apply two rules, unfortunately not always successfully!

    Dalai Lama: “Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.”

    Desmond Tutu: “When we forgive, we take back control of our own fate and our feelings. We become our own liberators. We don’t forgive to help the other person. We don’t forgive for others. We forgive for ourselves.”

    Simple to understand but sometimes so hard to apply.

    • Susie on February 18, 2016 at 11:26

      Thank you for that. I’m writing those quotes in my booklet. Good ground to work from.

  113. Deborah Robbe on January 30, 2016 at 15:38

    I am intrigued with the calling this video gives me.
    Knew of the booklet I ordered but unaware that video is part of this Lenten discipline.
    I look forward to take part.

  114. Bruce on January 14, 2016 at 22:15

    A rule of life could be seen as a guiding direction and structure in support of a life well lived.

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