Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Plan

I've been trying to distill the essence of the two Rules into practical set of guidelines for myself. Reading the whole Rule of Benedict, for example, is a worthwhile project, but it's hard to see how it applies to contemporary life. What I've come up with is a highly personalized version of both, and over the next couple of years, I want to explore this in greater depth. In other words, I've lived with these Rules and their peculiar manifestations in my life without having the chance to step back and see what's going on. So here's what I want to talk about--ancient disciplines that somehow foster transformation, even today:

  1. Manual labor (food production, repairing tools, building, cooking, cleaning, sewing, food preservation).

  2. Hospitality (providing lodging, hosting meals, counseling, listening).

  3. Frugality (resisting consumerism and debt, recycling, not wasting, saving).

  4. Discipline of body (nutrition, not overeating, rest, sleep, chastity about sexual matters,exercise).

  5. Study (resisting mindless entertainment, filling the mind with nutrititious food, reading the Bible and other holy works, lectio divina).

  6. Stability (not lusting after other places, good stewardship of what we have, willingness to commit and sink roots, care of relationships).

  7. Anchoring ourselves in the Psalms (daily offices, memorizing Psalms, study of Psalms).

Silence (Sabbath rest, custody of tongue, not participating in gossip, curtailment of news and email, silent prayer, sitting in nature).

The lay monastic life is truly antithetical to contemporary culture. The project can feel overwhelming. Where to start? After ten years, I still ask myself that question. But one thing I can now say: by the grace of God, it is possible to enter on to this ancient path, even in the era of YouTube.

1 comment:

Captain and Crew said...

This list is fantastic!
Thank you!