Developing your Rule of Life
Sometimes prayer comes to us naturally; we feel drawn to God, and when we look at God’s creation our hearts are filled with joy. But there are other times when life feels barren or strained. In those times, it’s much more difficult to embrace life. This is exactly when having a Rule of Life in place becomes so important. It is then that we really need to turn (or return) to those rhythms or disciplines which we have grown and established, so that they can uphold, support, and strengthen us when we feel that life has become very, very difficult.
A reading from The Rule of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist: ‘The Rule as a Guide to Personal Reflection’
A spiritual practice with deep roots and a close connection with monastic life is that of creating a personal Rule of Life. A rule of life is not a rigid law that makes daily life into the working of a machine. Rather, it is a kind of constitution or bill of rights that makes sure that all the different elements of a Spirit-filled life in Christ are valued and given their due place in the whole. A rule recognizes that we are subject to all sorts of pressures that work to make life one-sided, and repress essential aspects of our calling.
Each individual is in some way a miniature community, subject to internal and external pressures to avoid or neglect some aspect of her or his wholeness as a member of Christ. So it is the practice of many serious Christians to make a covenant with themselves, a pattern of practice and discipline to which they commit themselves to live in as full and balanced a way as possible. This personal rule of life is not a rigid law but a constitution that helps hold together the many elements of the whole self.
Bring it all together
Now as you move on to develop your own Rule of Life, prayerfully look over your notes from each phase. Does anything stand out to you at this point? How is God asking you to live into this new season of life? How will your calendar reflect your core values? What spiritual practices will set you on the right path?
Spend some time now in silence as you reflect on this stage of the process.
Exercise: My Rule of Life
Download the excretes and begin your ‘Garden Plot’ or Rule of Life which maybe divided into four sections: your Relationship with God, your Relationship with Self, your Relationship with Others, and your Relationship with Creation. Each of these sections is divided into three rings:
The inner ring, for ‘Daily Upkeep,’ will include disciplines or practices you decide to do every day. The middle ring, for ‘Weekly Fertilizing,’ is a place to record practices that you will do each week. The outer ring, for ‘Seasonal Care,’ lists practices that are only done occasionally – annually, semi-annually, or quarterly.
Use your notes from past sessions to guide this time of reflection. For each section write down a few simple, realistic steps you can take to nurture your relationship with God, with Self, with Others, and with Creation. Decide what you will do each day, each week, and each season or year.
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