In this program, we are trying to offer people an opportunity to draft a Rule of Life for themselves. So first of all we should ask the question, “What is a Rule of Life?” At first hearing the word rule may sound inappropriate or difficult to some. We have a negative reaction often times to rules and we don’t want to live by rules. But when monastics talk about a Rule of Life they’re not talking about a list of rules that we follow. The word “rule” comes from the Latin word regulari, which has the word that gives us words like regularize or regulations. And a rule is a way of regularizing our life, of bringing order and an intentional approach to the way that we are living. So rather than living randomly and just allowing ourselves to respond to the things that happen to us in life, a Rule of Life gives us a chance to step back and to think about what it is that we value and how we intend to live. What are the values we want to express in our daily living? – Br. David Vryhof
Video 2: Why write and keep a Rule of Life?
Transcript of Video:
Some of you may be asking, “Why have a Rule of Life at all? Why go to all the trouble?” I am reminded of a well-known poem by Mary Oliver called The Summer Day, and at the end of it, she asks a question. She says, “Tell me what it is you plan to do with your one wild and precious life.” So, in a sense, a Rule of Life – that’s the plan; it’s the plan for what you do with that precious gift. I also begin with the understanding, with the sense that life itself is a very precious gift that we have been given by God. So the Rule is what we plan to do with that very precious gift. So a Rule may be a way of intentionally enhancing our lives in some way, a way of cherishing this wonderful gift that we’ve been given. I think sometimes if somebody gives us a gift their hope is that we are going to not only use it – we’re not going to lock it away someplace, we are going to use it. We’re also going to care for it and cherish it and value it, but we’re also going to enjoy it. So another example comes to mind: let’s say somebody gives me something really nice like, let’s say, one of those fancy Italian sports cars. If they give me a gift like that they’re hoping I don’t put it away in the garage and close the door, but I’ll take it out, I’ll care for it, keep it nice and shiny, and I’ll actually enjoy taking it out on the road, at least once in a while. So the Rule of Life is our plan for making the most of this very precious gift that we have been given. Living life to the fullest.
– Br. Mark Brown
Video 3: How could a Rule of Life be helpful to you right now?
Transcript of Video:
Now when you hear “Rule of Life” part of you may say, “Oh, I can’t deal with one more rule.” But we want you to think again. “Rule,” as in Rule of Life, comes from the Latin regula, from which we get our word “ruler.” And having a Rule of Life is a way of sizing up and getting the right kind of measurement and proportions, the right kind of model, the template, for you to live a life that allows you to be fully and freely alive.
In the monastic tradition, Rules of Life have come into being for two reasons. One is because life is so precious and it’s also fleeting. We don’t know how long we will be alive. We do know that we only have today to live today; there will not be another day like this. And so having a Rule of Life allows you to attend to what is most important in life as you steward the life that God has given you.
In monastic tradition, the other reason why Rules of Life have figured in so importantly is so that you don’t live your life regretfully, with lots of “should” or “I only wish that…” or “I really need to…” But to front-load what your priorities are in life by having a Rule. If you were to think, “Well, how would I begin thinking about a Rule?”, think about it in terms of relationships – how you relate to yourself, how you relate to others, how you relate to God. How do you relate to yourself, body, mind, spirit? What do you do to stimulate your mind and body? What do you do to recreate your mind, your body? What do you do with money? Think about it also in terms of relationships with others – with other people, with family and friends, neighbors, co-workers, people whom you choose to relate to, people whom you cannot avoid relating to. What about people who get under your skin in not a good way? What about your enemies? Also think about others in terms of creation – the created order that surrounds us, things big and small, air and water, the creatures that fill the earth. And then think about your relationship with God. Jesus promised that he would be with us always. So how is it that you practice the presence of God as you navigate your way through the day?
I think of a Rule of Life as like a nozzle that you would put on a hose. That nozzle will give the water that’s coming from the hose direction and focus to hit the target, whatever that may be, rather than the water just flaying out all over the place. In that way a Rule can really bring you focus in life. I would say if you are going to start working on a Rule, do it in pencil. Try out some ideas, sleep on them, and then try them out, not just for a day, and not even just for a week, but try them out for a few weeks, what you’ve got in your Rule of Life.
Something else that is really helpful, perhaps from the get-go but certainly along the way, is invite someone who knows you and loves you, whom you trust, someone who says their prayers, to take a look at your Rule. What do they see in it? What’s present and what’s missing? I think you would find that helpful. – Br. Curtis Almquist
Video 4: How might the rhythms you observe in nature inform the way you live?
Transcript of Video:
Welcome. We’re so glad to have you join us for this program over the next few weeks. We’ll be working on a focus of growing a Rule of Life. We’re hoping over the next few weeks through these videos and through questions that we pose, to help you reflect on your own lives and to imagine structures or disciplines or practices that might help you to live that life more fully and more abundantly.
The scriptures say, “The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament shows His handiwork.” And we believe that in the natural world around us there are lessons to be learned from the patterns and rhythms of nature that we see around us, patterns that can inform our own patterns of living and our own ways of structuring our lives. Jesus often drew from the natural world when he spoke in parables or used examples in his teaching. He talked about sowers sowing seed, and vines and vineyards. He talked about the birds of the air and the flowers of the field, and he drew spiritual lessons, spiritual truths from these. So we’re going to invite you to reflect on the natural world. Particularly we’re going to focus on the metaphor of a garden thinking about our lives as “garden plots” and thinking about what we choose to plant there, and how we can nurture those plants and help them come to their full expression. So over the course of the next few weeks, we’re going to be moving through several phases and in each phase we’ll consider a different part of our life. There will be an introduction to each phase, a series of videos and questions that help us probe some of the aspects of that phase, and then a summary at the end, where we get a chance to reflect and maybe pull a few ideas or “seeds” from those things that we have been talking about for our garden plot – for this part of our garden plot. We’re looking forward to having you join us in these weeks. God bless you. – Br. David Vryhof
Video 5: In the garden of your life, what is thriving and what is not?
Transcript of Video:
In this series we are growing a Rule of Life, using gardening as our primary metaphor. What is it like to garden, to plant something? Imagine you are planting flowers or vegetables, something you planted last year or perhaps something new. Where are you planting? How much space do you have – a full yard or maybe you are in an apartment? What is the climate you are in, what is the season, what can grow where you are now? Then once you do plant, how do you help things grow? What do they need to survive – water, nutrients, sunlight? How do you protect what you have planted, perhaps with a fence? Perhaps things need to be cut back at times, pruned, in order to produce fruit. And then you get to enjoy and harvest and look forward to sustained further growth for next time.
Here as we consider Rule of Life we are looking at practices – what’s most important to us and how to plant them and help them grow. So what is a life practice you want to include? You may have many you want, but what space do you have and what climate or season are you in? Then what does it take to help nurture that? What will feed your practice and what boundaries do you need to put in place in order to actually grow? What must be let go of or cut back in order to produce fruit? Then how do you enjoy and how do you also sustain and consider what you might plan next? – Br. Luke Ditewig
Video 6: When you connect with nature, what makes it meaningful?
Transcript of Video:
Why live by a Rule? For most of us, it is a matter of necessity. Living by a Rule and the desire to live by a Rule is the equivalent of acknowledging the fact that we need help, which is the beginning of spirituality. It is the greatest prayer. And so many of you know that Evensong is the first prayer of the day because in keeping with the Jewish tradition the new day starts at sundown. The first prayer of the Evensong is, “O God, make speed to save us. O Lord make haste to help us.” The first word of the day is, “God, help me.” It is the beginning of spirituality. God cannot enter into a life that does not acknowledge the need for God or acknowledge that on my own I can’t do this. And so we set out to write a Rule, recognizing that we need a little something to give us the impetus to get on with our lives, to sort of set parameters on what we might like to achieve and do and the way we might like to live our life, because most of us would have to admit that we need a lot of reminders about how we want to live. It is easy to fall back into old habits or to become… rest on our laurels, so to speak, and sort of let up on – whether it’s going to church, or praying every day, or whatever it is – those things that we know we desire deeply,but somehow find ourselves cutting out or not able to stick with the program, and the Rule sort of sets a backdrop as a sort of reminder. Remember that this is how you want to live. Remember the benefits of living this way. So keep with it, stick with it, continue to do it, and always having that Rule there to fall back on and to look and say, “Yeah, this is the way to live.” – Br. John Braught
Video 7: What 'seeds' have you collected for your garden plot?
Transcript of Video:Over the course of this week we’ve introduced the idea of a Rule of Life and we’ve used the metaphor of a garden or a garden plot to think about our lives and think about the kind of plants that we want to encourage the growth of in these garden plots and perhaps also the kind of weeds that we might want to take out. So how can we make this garden plot flourish? How can we make it abundant and fruitful? So at the end of this week you have a chance to look back over the week. We’ve talked about what a Rule of Life is and we’ve looked at some different kinds of Rule of Life. What are the ideas that have kind of stuck in your mind? What has grabbed your attention? And what are some of the suggestions or ideas or images or metaphors that have seemed useful to you? So gather them up now and think in terms of gathering these as “seeds” and putting them in a packet and you’re going to sow them in the weeks to come as we go through the process of developing this garden plot. – Br. David Vryhof
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