We have a purple clematis that grows outside our house. It's massive and we attach it to its trellis each year with whatever is close by. Sometimes we use twine; one year we had grosgrain ribbon at hand and used it. We've used twist ties from garbage bags, embroidery floss, some of the string we use to tie up our newspapers before recycling them. It does not seem to matter a bit what we use to tie the clematis to the wooden trellis. It stays affixed all season and looks lush and beautiful every year. It is blooming where it's planted and it is thriving.
Part of my formation as a part of the clergy renewal program in which I participated for two years at Our Lady of Grace was to study and to learn about the Rule of St. Benedict. I read a portion of the Rule each day on my Kindle. (I'm hoping St. Benedict doesn't mind a slightly higher tech approach to his brilliant rule. It really works for me.) Another part of that time, which concluded last May, was to write my own rule. We learned about an approach to a personal rule for life being like setting up a trellis on which one's life can be lived. For some reason, for the past six months I have resisted writing a personal rule. Friends in the program have completed theirs and e-mailed them, and with a start, I recall that I need to complete mine, too. (There's a lot of stuff that applies to no one else but me that I put off doing in favor of the triage of life that is really common. I see the pattern. I really do.)
Last week, my friends at the Benedict Inn, which is one of the arms of continuing education and renewal offered by the Sisters of St. Benedict who changed my life (no exaggeration) two years ago, sent this small announcement within their newsletter:
"A Trellis that Supports Your Spiritual Life
A Rule of Life serves as a trellis to help support your spiritual life.
This evening will introduce you to what a Rule of Life is and how it might help you on your own spiritual journey. It is a way to help you pay attention to what makes you a better you!
Thursday, Nov. 13, 7-9 PM
Sr. Jennifer Mechtild Horner, OSB"
How much more of a nudge do I need? If I lived closer to Indianapolis, this would be the night. Except, I have been introduced to what a Rule of Life is and how it might help me on my own spiritual journey. (Note that the workshop will be held tonight.)
My trellis, my rule, definitely needs to include time for reading and personal devotions each day.
It needs to include time for intercessory prayer.
Some part of the trellis should represent time with my family. Time is fleeting and life is simultaneously strong as iron and fragile as gossamer. I want that time with my nearest and dearest.
Some part of the trellis needs to be daily, physical exercise. Duh. Duh. Duh.
A portion of the trellis must be a little creativity. I write a lot, so I envision this part being knitting, cooking, quilting as another place in my brain to utilize.
I think the feet or the arc of the trellis would represent gratitude. I've had a practice for a while (a blatant steal from my friend ADC) of praying a grateful prayer each morning and then accompanying that prayer with a thank you note to the one for whom I am grateful. I love this practice and it has sustained me in ways I never would have imagined.
My world is filled with people who practice a Rule of Life far better than I. What am I missing? What would you suggest that I add or edit? After hearing from you and considering your great thoughts, I'm ready to call this my rule. Project done. Trellis installed. Life to be savored some more.