Understanding a Rule of Life
The Psalmist says, ‘The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament shows God’s handiwork’ (Psalm 19:1). We believe that the rhythms and patterns of life that we see in the natural world around us can inform our own lifestyles and life choices. Growing a ‘Rule of Life’ can help us to think about how we want to live, and help us recognize which patterns and rhythms will bring real life, the abundant life that Jesus promised.
A reading from Soul Feast, by Marjorie Thompson:
Certain kinds of plants need support in order to grow properly. Tomatoes need stakes, and beans must attach themselves to suspended strings… Without support, these plants would collapse in a heap on the ground. Their blossoms would not have the space and sun they need to flourish, and their fruits would rot in contact with the soil. We would be unable to enjoy their beauty and sustenance. When it comes to spiritual growth, human beings are much like these plants. We need structure and support. Otherwise… the fruit of the Spirit in us gets tangled and is susceptible to corruption… We need structure in order to have enough space, air, and light to flourish. Structure gives us the freedom to grow as we are meant to. There is a name in Christian tradition for the kind of structure that supports our spiritual growth. It is called a rule of life. A rule of life is a pattern of spiritual disciplines that provides structure and direction for growth in holiness… It is meant to help us establish a rhythm of daily living, a basic order within which new freedoms can grow.
Reprinted from Soul Feast: An Invitation to the Christian Spiritual Life by Marjorie J. Thompson. Copyright 1997. Used by permission of Westminster John Knox Press. www.wjkbooks.com.
What is a Rule of Life?
The word ‘rule’ comes from the Latin word, regula, from which we get ‘regularize’ and ‘regulate.’ Keeping a Rule of Life is a way to regularize our lives in order to stay on an intentionally-chosen path. A Rule of Life is not just a set of rules; rather, it is a supportive framework to gently guide us on our way.
- A Rule of Life allows us to live with intention and purpose in the present moment. It helps us clarify our most important values, relationships, dreams, and goals.
- It is meant to be simple, realistic, flexible, and achievable. It is a purposeful tool to help us grow into a more meaningful life with God.
- The first Rules of Life grew out of Christian monastic communities in the deserts of Egypt during the 4th and 5th centuries. Communities as well as individuals have benefitted from following this ancient practice of keeping a Rule of Life.
Exercise: Other Garden Plots
Before we begin planting our gardens, we may want to take a stroll around the block and explore other gardens to see what works well and what doesn’t work well.
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Watch Videos in this Phase:
What is a Rule of Life?
Why write and keep a Rule of Life?
How could a Rule of Life be helpful to you right now?
How might the rhythms you observe in nature inform the way you live? (Feb 10)
In the garden of your life, what is thriving and what is not?
When you connect with nature, what makes it meaningful?
What ‘seeds’ have you collected for your garden plot?