Crafting a rule of life

This week I audited a course at Regent College in Vancouver, called Taking Your Soul to Work.  (I really enjoyed this week of professional development and vacation, and I’m already thinking about doing it again next year.)  Going into the course, I was excited to learn about a theology of work, but I didn’t realize how much of the content would be drawn from historical Christian traditions such as desert monasticism, the Benedictine Rule, and Ignatian spirituality.

The main action item I gave myself based on the course is to craft my own rule of life, which is a new concept for me. A rule of life is a slate of spiritual disciplines, developed on one’s own and/or with the input of trusted advisors, to be incorporated into one’s life at set intervals: daily, weekly, annually, etc. Despite the rigid connotations of the word “rule,” the term in this context implies a “life-giving rhythm” (to quote Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of Matthew 11:28-30 in The Message).  Rather than more items on a to-do list, the disciplines are a way to become aware of God’s presence amidst the “secular” activities of one’s life.  (Another idea we discussed in this class: There’s no such thing as a secular activity.)

A rule of life can include, among many others, such practices as observing a weekly Sabbath rest, reading Scripture daily, praying the examen prayer (more on this is a later post), and taking a semi-annual silent retreat.  My initial instinct is to sit down for an hour and quickly knock out a rule for my life, but I think it will be wiser to process what I’ve learned this week and craft my rule one item at a time.  My plan is to blog about this process along the way.  Want to join me?