Working on my Rule of Life

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?


4 thoughts on “Working on my Rule of Life

  1. Pingback: Morning Prayer « Spacious Faith

  2. I like this idea of creating your own rule of life. I look forward to reading more about yours. I’ve thought about taking on such a project before, but have been daunted by knowing that whatever I come up with will never be comprehensive. Maybe thinking of it as a document in process will help.

  3. I have two rules of life.

    One regards the physical body, and it has fomented from much thought and discernment as a result of being a Western-civilization woman (translation: person with body issues) and a radical weight-loss maintainer of many years (a rarity that happens as much from fortune as hard work, and is NOT a lifestyle but a rigorous part-time job, if one is honest). Here is the rule (which I partially fail at, but think is the sanest way to be in a physical body):

    Live joyfully most of the time, eat healthfully most of the time, exercise most days and treasure whatever body happens.

    My second rule of life applies to my creative work — writing, generally. It is:

    “Tell a truth; advance compassion.”

    That one just popped in my head one day and felt so good I had to adopt it. It continued to feel good for months and then years. It has occurred to me that it was possibly Jesus’ mission statement. It would fit, after all. But it makes me feel uncomfortable, maybe arrogant, to think I share something so personal and important with Jesus as a mission statement.

    • Debra, I like both of your rules. I just joined a gym to try to get in step with the exercise thing and I keep reminding myself that it’s about being healthy, not looking like a model. (Which, at 5 feet even, I will never do anyway.)

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