In various religious circles, a “rule of life” refers to the definition or regulation of rhythms, rituals, and relationships — held to be conducive to individual and communal spiritual formation. Various religious orders have such rules. There’s the Rule of St. Benedict, for example, which governs the life of Benedictines around the world. But, lest we think of it only as a “Catholic” thing, there’s Wesley’s “General Rules” for his United Societies. Most recently, it’s in vogue for pastors and authors to invite individuals to craft their own, personal rules for faithful living. It’s a focus, in fact, for one of our explorations here at Zoe-Life.
Leading a course a few years ago on the process of developing such a rule, I began by suggesting that we all have internal rules for our lives and living—even if they are unconscious or subconscious. To make my point, I showed the following clip from an episode of NGTV’s Brain Games:
It’s true, dear Soul: we all have rhythms and rituals for the living of our lives—whether we are aware of them or not. Writes Steve Macchia: “All of us have an unwritten personal rule of life that we are following, some with great clarity, others unknowingly. We wake at certain times, get ready for our days in particular ways, use our free time for assorted purposes and practice rhythms of work, hobbies, worship, vacation and so on. There is already a rule in place that you are following today.” (Crafting a Rule of Life: An Invitation to the Well-Ordered Way, p. 14)
A necessary beginning (or two), then, in any program of spiritual formation is:
- To acknowledge that that each of us has a rule of living—that inclines us and our souls in some direction, and
- To become mindful of our habits and rituals of living (embedded, in part, in our checkbooks and calendars and daily rhythms)
Note: Be on the lookout for the next issue of Ruminations, a free quarterly resource from Zoe-Life Explorations (coming at the end of the month)—with its focus on next steps in creating a rule for faithful living!