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