Some people never stray far from the boundaries in life. Others push the edges or outright break all barriers. Some just rebelliously refuse to even consider any guidelines.
In this age of individualism, why would anyone even consider a rule for life? What is a rule for life, anyway?
A Rule for Life is a collection of guidelines for living. It can also be called a Way of Life. Its purpose is to help us keep our sense of balance by intentionally addressing all aspects of life: physical, emotional, socially, spiritually, etc.
Debra K. Farrington in her book, Living Faith Day by Day, encourages us to pick a practice under each of the following areas:
1. Foundations (putting God at the center of your rule and your life)
2. Prayer (finding a prayer type and rhythm that works for you)
3. Work (approaching your work as part of your spiritual life rather than something divorced from it)
4. Study (establishing a regular practice of learning more about God)
5. Spiritual companionship (committing yourself to regular companionship and community on the journey)
6. Care of your body (taking care of yourself as a spiritual practice)
7. Reaching out (caring for others and the environment as a spiritual practice)
8. Hospitality (finding ways to be a gracious presence in the world)
Writing and living within a Rule for Life is a spiritual practice that can help lead to healthy spirituality.
Rule for living grew out of the monastic movement to help monks continue to grow spiritually while in community. The first known rules were written by Pachomius who lived in Egypt between 292 and 346 AD. Daily prayers were a foundation for his guidelines.
Perhaps the best known Rule for Life is the Rule of St. Benedict from the 6th century.
Most of us already follow some type of unspoken rules each day – we brush our teeth and wear our seatbelt in the car. I kiss my hubby good bye when he leaves each morning and he calls his mother every Sunday. I firmly believe in going on a retreat at least once a year and try to write in my journal at least twice a week. At the end of each day, I ask myself what am I most grateful for this past day?
Each of us can create our own unique Rule for Life. We can fill up an entire page with statements or we can write a simple statement of beliefs. The foundation is to consider: how can I be open to the Holy Spirit and grow closer to God?
In October 2003 I wrote my own Rule for Life for the first time. I reread it several times a year noting areas I am making progress and areas I neglect. I have revised and reworded it more than once. I have a friend who wrote a longer rule for herself one year, then condensed it to four sentences as she applied it to her daily living. A Rule of Life is a living, dynamic spiritual practice.
Putting into writing my deepest desires for my relationship with God continues to be a powerful practice. Unfolding the now ragged pages of my first draft, I pray each of the lines, asking God to speak to me, to guide me in His way.
Do you have a Rule for Life?
“Listen carefully, my son, to the master’s instruction, and attend to them with the ear of your heart” St Benedict’s Rule