March 20: Old Rules & New Rule Part 2


So, yesterday we explored the evolution of patterns of organized living the church calls Rules of Life.  I am realizing that we all need a personal strategy specific to this moment to ground ourselves in reality, seek health in every dimension, and practice habits of faithfulness in this suddenly dramatic Lent.  I have been listening to many of yours this past week and want to offer mine as well, not as authoritative “Father Brooks knows best” (insert favorite “puke” sound here), but rather as soundings towards more reflection and refinement in our own circumstance.  We are all social creatures, and deprived of that sociality, we can or certainly I can swiftly go off the rails!  So here goes some thoughts towards elements of a New Rule:

  • I am adopting Benedict’s triad approach to daily living.  8 hours of sleep, 8 hours of labor, preferably physically or something active, and 8 hours of study/other activity including worship which includes bible reading and study.  Versus 4 hours of sleep and 20 hours of insane activity otherwise.  Guessing that dog won’t hunt well or for long in this environment.
  • Lenten disciplines remain in Lenten effect.  Dangit!  Yes, I had a momentary break last week as all these dramatic changes came into view, and yes, I know about the Facetime version of visiting at night over wine remotely with friends (Facewine) or whisky (Facemalt) or whatever suits your evening palate (Facetini okay, Faceshine is not!), but Lent should prevail.  The ancient wisdom of our forebears keeping church seasons is itself a enduring community Rule of Life shared the world over.  Current circumstances may disrupt but not abrogate our Lenten commitments.
  • Ma Ingalls was right.  At least about a weekly day of rest, just like Moses and God when God created Shabbat.  I am writing today’s reflection yesterday so I can keep Friday as a day of rest and refreshment for myself.  Perhaps we need a sabbath from breaking news, from all media, or just from the things which we already know that weigh us down.
  • So was Nelson Mandela as well as Mother Emily returning from her continuing education clergy conference last year!  We all need to sweat every day, so I will be hiking with dog, road biking when the roads clear, and continuing to work out with my trainer out-of-doors.  I hope we all can take out some of this energy in safe and energetic ways during this time.
  • I need to reach out daily to talk to you and others I dearly love!  Family, friends, colleagues… several every single day throughout this social sabbath.  Don’t be surprised if you hear from me for absolutely no good reason, and I welcome hearing from you.  While I cannot personally respond to every text, call or email straightaway, I am working to get back to you as expeditiously as possible.
  • I desperately need to worship, by myself with the Daily Office and with you all on Sundays remotely.  We need to lift up our voices to the Lord together now more than ever.  It helps me remember that while we may be distanced for a time, we are never alone in the Kingdom of the Heavens!  I cannot wait for the simple pleasure of passing the Peace with you again, but for now, this is what I need and will be seeking every single day.
  • My family heritage life project needs a little bit of work every day.  Doesn’t yours?  Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was generations of family patrimony, but we need to start somewhere.  Divide and conquer as Julius reminds us.
  • Patience, hopefulness, perspective and gentleness.  For you and for me too.  The spiritual fruit that the Apostle Paul states categorically is the inheritance of every Christian.  God has a plan, a purpose and a schedule.  What a terrific time to ask Him what that is for my life, and yours!
  1. If any of these soundings help draw you towards a New Rule of Life for this moment, thank God.  If not, what elements of a disciplined daily pattern of life are essential right now?
  2. Where do you find comfort, solace and strong encouragement in your faith?  In daily lived experience?  What is essentially important versus merely urgent right now?
  3. I encourage us all to write out a personal, private New Rule.  Not a list of to-do items, but habits which nourish and uplift us during this time.  And then enact that Rule right now!

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