Tomorrow is the last day of our Formation Foundations: Rhythms series. Over the last three weeks together, we've reflected on the rhythms of our days, the rhythms of our weeks, and the rhythms of our seasons. I've enjoyed this time learning with and from you. I hope it's helped you cultivate more sustainable—and sustaining—rhythms of life.
I often hear from folks who are interested in crafting and keeping a rule of life but feel intimidated or just don't know where to start—and so they never do. The good news is a rule of life need not be complicated or rigorous. It only needs to be thoughtful, prayerful, and true, reflecting the way God made us and the unique ways we are invited to partner with God in Kingdom-building.
The English word rule comes from the Latin regula, which can refer to a straight piece of wood, a ruler, or even a pattern, model, or example. Esther de Waal, a longtime student of monastic spirituality, writes that “regula, a feminine noun, carries gentle connotations: a signpost, a railing, something that gives me support as I move forward in my search for God.” A rule of life, then, serves as a gentle guide that keeps us trained toward God.
I've been thinking over the course of this series about what Annie Dillard says in her beautiful book The Writing Life. “How we spend our days is of course how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour and that one is what we are doing.”
The rhythm of our days is, indeed, the rhythm of our life—and rule of life is just another name for our commitment to live by a particular collection of priorities, postures, practices, and rhythms. It occurs to me, then, that this series was a simple next step for each of us toward crafting or refining our own rule of life. The next step is to put it all together in one place and start living from it.
The practice of crafting a rule of life has been so formative in my own life, I included a rule of life section in the very first Sacred Ordinary Days Planner five years ago—and every planner since.
I continue to hear from so many kindreds who find it just as life-giving as I do. If you want a meaningful place to record yours—or more guidance as you continue the process—our 2021 Liturgical Year B Planners include a brand new 10-page guide to crafting and keeping a rule of life. They don't go on sale until September 1st, but you can get a sneak peek here.
So now, in the words of poet Mary Oliver, "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
P. S. I love Emily P. Freeman's phenomenal podcast, The Next Right Thing. If you're also a fan, you may have noticed every episode ends with the hope that it "can be just one more rung on the trellis upon which your rhythm of life can continue to grow." Another name for that trellis she's talking about? Rule of life.