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How could a Rule of Life be helpful to you right now?

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

Watch: How could a Rule of Life be helpful to you right now?
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Transcript of Video:

Now when you hear “Rule of Life” part of you may say, “Oh, I can’t deal with one more rule.”  But we want you to think again.  “Rule,” as in Rule of Life, comes from the Latin regula, from which we get our word “ruler.”  And having a Rule of Life is a way of sizing up and getting the right kind of measurement and proportions, the right kind of model, the template, for you to live a life that allows you to be fully and freely alive.

In the monastic tradition, Rules of Life have come into being for two reasons.  One is because life is so precious and it’s also fleeting.  We don’t know how long we will be alive.  We do know that we only have today to live today; there will not be another day like this.  And so having a Rule of Life allows you to attend to what is most important in life as you steward the life that God has given you.

In monastic tradition, the other reason why Rules of Life have figured in so importantly is so that you don’t live your life regretfully, with lots of “should” or “I only wish that…” or “I really need to…”  But to front-load what your priorities are in life by having a Rule.  If you were to think, “Well, how would I begin thinking about a Rule?”, think about it in terms of relationships – how you relate to yourself, how you relate to others, how you relate to God.  How do you relate to yourself, body, mind, spirit?  What do you do to stimulate your mind and body?  What do you do to recreate your mind, your body?  What do you do with money?  Think about it also in terms of relationships with others – with other people, with family and friends, neighbors, co-workers, people whom you choose to relate to, people whom you cannot avoid relating to.  What about people who get under your skin in not a good way?  What about your enemies?  Also think about others in terms of creation – the created order that surrounds us, things big and small, air and water, the creatures that fill the earth.  And then think about your relationship with God.  Jesus promised that he would be with us always.  So how is it that you practice the presence of God as you navigate your way through the day?

I think of a Rule of Life as like a nozzle that you would put on a hose.  That nozzle will give the water that’s coming from the hose direction and focus to hit the target, whatever that may be, rather than the water just flaying out all over the place.  In that way a Rule can really bring you focus in life.  I would say if you are going to start working on a Rule, do it in pencil.  Try out some ideas, sleep on them, and then try them out, not just for a day, and not even just for a week, but try them out for a few weeks, what you’ve got in your Rule of Life.

Something else that is really helpful, perhaps from the get-go but certainly along the way, is invite someone who knows you and loves you, whom you trust, someone who says their prayers, to take a look at your Rule.  What do they see in it?  What’s present and what’s missing?  I think you would find that helpful.

– Br. Curtis Almquist

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26 Comments

  1. Richard A Dixon on August 15, 2017 at 11:59

    It seems to me that creating and following a Rule of Life will provide a structure for taking stock, for considering how I am really living and relating, considering also what values are important to me, and how can/will I express these in my life – most especially in my relationship with God, but also with my family, friends and neighbours.

  2. Andre on May 23, 2017 at 09:34

    I need a Rule to give me direction, to ground my work and to help me grow with God. Life is precious, but I struggle with depression and suicidal thoughts. I am angry and snappy most of the time. And yet, this is not who I am and this is not what God is calling me to be.

  3. Jaan Sass on August 29, 2016 at 09:13

    This is something I need my track record with relationships, work, and how I take care of myself have been chaotic at best I need focus I’m hoping this will help me prioritize and a framework to go forward.

  4. Linda on May 14, 2016 at 11:29

    I need a rule for better life balance, fortitude, better intimacy with God. I want to follow it and share it with others. I think it will simplify my life and make life go more smoothly.

  5. Mir on February 26, 2016 at 14:16

    I’ve lived by a Rule for years – since 1993. It’s supported me in keeping a simplicity and harmony in my work. I’ve also hidden behind it from acknowledging that the harmony was no longer internal. Now, I rebuild. It’s not our Rule that failed me, it’s those little understandings and assumptions about it. I must grow more of a structure than our Rule and this seemed timely as I’m under spiritual direction to rebuild.

  6. Jeannie on February 19, 2016 at 23:00

    I’m been forced to go through a lot of changes in the last several years, and spent too much time reacting. I’m hoping a rule of life will help me bring some control to my reactions and allow me to do so with more thought and grace.

  7. Debbie on February 17, 2016 at 15:03

    I believe that not enough people practice rules. That the rules of life do not apply to them. So a rule for me would be to stay away from them. I even do not want to pray for them because what ever good they may have is smaller than a mustard seed.

  8. Catherine on February 15, 2016 at 13:11

    I liked the image of the nozzle you put on a hose. I had to develop a Rule of Life last year at a conference, and in doing so, realized that I needed to prune some things out of my life–good things, but having too many good things to do has left me scattered all over the place. Rules of Life can be like that too–if the rule is too scattered and complicated by too many good ideas and plans, the rule can end up creating more scattering than focus.

  9. Eugene Wright on February 14, 2016 at 23:25

    A Rule of Life for me will be helpful in getting me focused on God and let Him control my life; because by myself I haven’t done a good job of it.

  10. Debbie McMahon on February 14, 2016 at 08:31

    Often unconsciously, I am giving in to fear. I trust God’s protection in so many areas, but the lectures and comments remind me that I am still in such fear in so many other areas of my life-am I worthy? Am I smart enough? Am I a good person? Am I liked? My worldly experience has caused me to be reticent in participating fully in community, of being myself and showing myself. This is all due to fear of people. And yet, I desire community, I desire to be liked. I want my confidence in the lessons my life can teach others so I can share myself and let others in. God is great, but people are the scariest things in the world. That is giving more power to humans than to God in my life. A rule of life will state my intention to trust God that the gift I have been given is enough, and worthy to share with humanity.

  11. Bobbi on February 13, 2016 at 16:28

    I am 76 years old, in good health, and have wonderful family, friends and church. My mother lived to be 101 and I watched her love God, herself and her neighbor right up to her last breath. I am aware that some people in this later stage of life lose meaning and purpose, while others, like my mother, share love in beautiful ways. Such a rule (commitment/promise) will help me be all that God wants me to be.

    • abby on February 20, 2016 at 11:44

      that’s so beautiful!

  12. Jen on February 10, 2016 at 19:02

    I think a Rule of Life would help me to have more balance in life with mind, body, and spirit. I think it would help me to be intentionally closer to God and take better care of my body which as they say is a temple. Being closer to God will help me in my other goals as I generally have a very close relationship with God, it has just separated a bit with all the static of life’s interruptions.

  13. Linda Jones on February 10, 2016 at 10:10

    A rule of life would be very helpful for me. I have this deep yearning inside to be closer to God and a rule of life would certainly give me the support I need to make that relationship stronger and more a part of my life throughout the day.

    • Bobbi on February 13, 2016 at 16:28

      Linda, I resonate with what you have said. Thank you.

  14. Ilona Bevan on February 10, 2016 at 08:24

    For me, a Rule of Life is a way of entering into a state of healing. I have reached a point where I see myself looking at, what feels like, a lot of broken pieces and shattered hopes and dreams. I long to offer myself, my soul, my life, the support it needs to get back in touch with the source of all good things.

    • Debbie McMahon on February 14, 2016 at 08:34

      Healing-that resonates so perfectly with me! I am broken and I have pragmatically stuffed those broken pieces into isolation, leaving me alone in a sea of humanity, and lonelier than ever. I am an introvert by nature, so this feeds on itself. Thank you for the word-healing.

  15. Robert Corey on February 10, 2016 at 08:09

    I’ve a Republican Representative in Congress to whom I often write, and more often lately, Tweet. He often rails against regulation. One time I imagined a busy intersection unregulated — without traffic lights. Gridlock. Or a situation where the bully gets ahead — the monster truck driving on top of that gridlock to get through. (And associations with Ayn Randian ubermensch). If I don’t set aside time to do certain things, they never get done. The things left waiting at the red light, on the main artery, will get their turn. That traffic never does seem to subside, letting the side street traffic through. Stilling that urgency of the ordinary as it waits it turn is one of the issues in taking time to — most of all I think of taking time to read. To do what I’m doing right now.

  16. Katie on February 9, 2016 at 20:38

    I am most grounded and creative when there is structure and regularity in my personal and my professional life, yet I do not have that same structure in my spiritual life, in my relationship with God. I want to know that groundedness and creativity in my spiritual life and believe I can obtain both through a rule of life.

  17. Douglas on February 8, 2016 at 14:04

    Renewing my rule of life would help me to reorder how I spend my time and to re-balance on what I’m spend my time and energy. It seems I spend more time on work and less time in prayer and quiet meditation. I schedule my workouts but I am not as intentional with scheduling time with my family and friends. In reflecting on it more fully this exercise will also help me to discern what I might do for creative expression.

    • Mir on February 26, 2016 at 14:13

      Sounds familiar – may we both succeed!

  18. David Andrews on February 8, 2016 at 09:10

    For me a rule of life helps me be centered and open to God’s in dwelling spirit in my life and in the life of those around me. While on retreat I had real sense of intentionally letting go of all the stuff that I tend to hold onto and that interferes with my relationship with God and with others. A rule of life reminds me that I am loved by God and that I am God’s creation.

  19. Roderic Brawn on February 8, 2016 at 07:23

    I am trying to get the things I do in life ranked in order of a godly importance. I mean to say, “what can I best do with that with which God has endowed me for myself and for others?” I want to feel at the end of it that I have spent what I have been given well. I want to feel that the integrity into which I make my life is ethical, moral and godly. I know we have prayed that we would like to have a godly righteous and sober life. For me I would like my Not to be too sober, that is I want a life excited by joy in what I am doing.

    • abby on February 20, 2016 at 11:20

      Hello Roderick, I believe that is what God would want to. There is Much Joy in his presence, not a worldly joy. I just know you can have a Joy filled experience with the lord as you spend what you have been given well – In his presence is the fullness of joy. Grace and peace, abby

  20. Leslie on February 8, 2016 at 06:57

    Six months ago, I invited a controlled demolition into my life. While still figuring out the new way of being, I had an uninvited earthquake. Very few structures are sill intact. What a great opportunity to rebuild with an actual plan!

  21. Judi on February 8, 2016 at 05:53

    A rule of life will help me to focus on the blessings in my life and identify actions I can take to foster healthy and loving relationships.

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