Tuesday, March 08, 2016

A rule of life

The Episcopal Cafe featured a post this weekend on developing a rule of life, taken from a series written by Charles LaFond, the canon steward of St. John's Cathedral in Denver.  He suggests reflecting on our own particular practices, and returning to those reflections from time to time, much as monastic communities read their rule of life on a regular basis.

It's the start of my spring break (which began after a 600 mile round trip trek by car to Massachusetts and back accomplished in just over 24 hours, whew).  As I went through my Saturday routine of folding laundry and tidying the kitchen, I was thinking about the value of a measuring stick, and the comfort of routine, even for adults.  There can be a care for the whole person in such routines, especially those with a tinge of ritual to them.  I wrap each sorted load of laundry up in a furoshiki, thinking each time of Japan.  It's not strictly necessary (though it does keep me from finding socks I've dropped on the stairs), but the ritual snugging of the knots, and the colorful pile of laundry bundles are a source of delight in the midst of a very routine task.

Before the semester started, I indulged in a bit of KonMari organizing of office and clothes.  There is a joy in being able to lay hands on a turtleneck without digging through a laundry basket in the basement, a spaciousness to a desk that has just what I need for the semester's courses on it, and tidy shelves with the books for various writing and research projects stashed within easy reach.  It reminds me to be grateful for what I have, rather than annoyed with tending what I cannot find and may not need.

There is a certain amount of indulgent self-care in this, a bit less stress, in that I'm not dashing down to the basement to press a pair of pants in the morning, and less visual clutter.  But there is also a clearing of time that comes with it all.  Less searching/ironing/packing of lunches in the morning has meant an extra 5 or 10 minutes to spend just sitting quietly before Mass begins.  I'm more likely to wave on someone waiting to get out of the Dunkin' Donuts lot I pass on the way, because I'm not in a rush. Ha.  Maybe my rule of life needs to say "For the care of your soul and care for your neighbor lay out your clothes, iron your shirt and pack your lunch the night before."

Kimberly Belcher is reflecting on the practice of regularly reading the Rule of St. Benedict at PrayTell.  She pulls in her own experiences as a parent to read a particularly challenging passage.

If you don't know Rev. Jane Tomaine's wonderful St. Benedict's Toolbox, about adapting and living the Rule of St. Benedict for those residing outside monastic walls, it's a terrific resource.  It's the most practical doctoral dissertation project I've encountered!

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