I am enjoying my work on the Creative Arts Retreat for ordinary time. (I even got out the Greek lexicon this morning!) Because I am writing up so many prayer practices for the retreat material, I am going to take a break from posting weekly practices for awhile.
So today I want to share a bit about my sabbatical journey toward creating a Rule of Life for myself. Traditionally, monks and nuns follow Rules. These Rules (such as the Rule of St. Benedict) address issues of worship, rest, work, and other aspects of community living. Non-monastics are increasingly finding benefit in creating and living by Rules in their unique life situations as well.
I’ve loved the idea of a Rule ever since I heard a fellow seminary student mention hers over a decade ago. So one of my sabbatical projects has been to read about Rules and develop my own. I am about to finish one of the books: A Mother’s Rule of Life, by Holly Pierlot.
This book has both irritated and inspired me. When the author, a homeschooling mother of five, mentioned that one of her tasks was packing her husband’s lunch every day, I about threw the book across the room.
Rule of Life #1: My husband is a grown up and capable of making his own dang lunch.
We differ on other points as well. Pierlot writes about Catholic practices that are not relevant to my own spiritual life, and she relishes her vocation as a mother and wife in a way that is slightly foreign to me. She has developed elaborate chore charts and schedules, because she places a very high value on a clean home.
Rule of Life #2: I can pray on a dirty floor.
Yet for all of my theological disagreements and all of the ways my Rule will look so much different than Pierlot’s, she has also been the most helpful guide on this journey so far. Because, honestly, I can do the theological work for myself. And I have to plot out the details of my own Rule for myself. But I am not flexible enough to give myself a good swift kick in the butt.
Part of developing a Rule is to establish regular times of prayer. And after she writes about this, she says: Start this NOW! Don’t wait until your Rule is finalized and perfect. If you want to have morning prayer time, start having morning prayer time tomorrow.
So I did. I just started. (Or re-started.) And it is good.
Also, Pierlot has some specific ideas in there that I just might borrow for my own Rule–like nobody is excused from the dining/kitchen area after supper until the kitchen is clean!
Since I’m a deadline worker, I don’t expect my Rule to be done until the very end of my Sabbatical. And any Rule is always a document in process anyway.
I would love to hear from others who have been through this process. What was helpful for you in developing a Rule? What have you gained and what have you learned in your efforts to follow a Rule of Life?