Do you have rules that you live by? Foundations you have built your life around? Guidelines you try to stay close to in your everyday life?
Those rules could be basic, such as no caffeine after 5pm or to always carry an umbrella. Sometimes the rules we live by hold a deeper meaning: never go to sleep without resolving a disagreement or always recycling, even if that means collecting your own materials and bringing them to another city. We all have these guidelines that hold us to standards we devise, to give support and direction when our journey is stable or uncertain.
“The Rules of Life” is a set of guidelines written by St. Benedict in the year 516, intended for life in the monastery setting. The intention of these rules was not to be laws where one would be punished for straying, but rather a healthy way to guide all into a balanced life. The three vows one would take are to live in stability, obedience, and a conversion of life. The five practices one would build these vows upon were prayer, work, study, hospitality, and renewal. From this information we can learn a great deal on the intentionality and gentleness we are to give ourselves, as well as others in daily life. It is important to recognize the connection of these practices and how they influenced the vows, which were produced to more easily achieve a balanced life. To fulfill these vows, one needed to hold their practices in equal importance. In connection to our lives we have personal expectations; we are all human and we all have different vantage points from which we have experienced life. Know perfection is not and will never be the goal but to try perfectly in all we do. This is a call to set guidelines in our lives and not be deterred when we become distracted. We are human and, in our humanity, we are faulty and inconsistent.
As I was challenged, I now ask you to think of your rules of life. They can range from daily to yearly and be within every range in which you inhabit: personal, family, work, church, etc. Thinking of the guidelines you may already hold and how they give balance to your energy is a wonderful place to start.
Where do you place your efforts? Are they well yoked? Then, move on to what structures you could put in place that would benefit my future self. What will fuel your life?”