Ancient Spiritual Disciplines:

The First Rule of Saint Benedict

I spent most of my life doing neither what I ought nor what I liked…”
(Screwtape by C.S. Lewis)

Adele Calhoun writes ‘We all have rules like “Do your best.”  “Never give up.”  “Never say never.”  “Just do it.”  These mottos tether us to certain behaviors and attitudes so we can, in the words of another rule, “be all we can be.”  They help us live toward what we most want.  Developing a “rule for life” is a way of being intentional about the personal rhythms and guidelines that shape our days.   A rule for life is a simple statement of the regular rhythms we choose … as a way to partner with God for the transformation only he can bring.  Rules keep our lives from devolving into unintended chaos.  They aren’t a burdensome list of do’s and don’ts, enumerating everything you might do in a day.  Life-giving rules are a brief and realistic scaffold of disciplines that  support your heart’s desire to grow in loving God and others.’

Write a rule of life for yourself that is short, attainable, challenging, and fits who you are and where you are in life.
Here is mine:

Every day I will strive to:

        Spend Time With God

        Plan for my deep duties & deep joys

        Break a sweat

        Eat right

        Get enough sleep

        Do one thing for someone else

        Do one thing for myself

        Give everyone – including myself – some grace

 What if that was enough?  What if doing these few things meant a day well spent, a life well lived?   What if these were your primary appointments and everything else that seems so important had to fit around them?  What if you gave yourself permission to live this way – how would it change the rhythm and feel of your life?  As you look at the list above – which thing is missing most from your life right now?  St. Benedict 480 – 587 AD developed a rule of life, a structure or rhythm for the day that helped his followers be present to God, themselves, others, and the present moment.  Here is a version of the first rule of St. Benedict adapted by Langdon Palmer from the work of John McQuiston:

The first rule is simply this:

Live this life
And do whatever is done
In the Spirit of Thanksgiving.
Place at His Feet:
Your Desire for Certainty
Your Desire for Security
Your Desire to be Full
Your Anxiousness
Your Worries
Your Fears
And come to comfortable Rest
In the certainty that those
Who participate in this life with an attitude of Thanksgiving,
Who trust in the faithfulness of their Maker,
Who humbly walk with their God –
Will receive the full promise.
Therefore let us  live boldly  this day
in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit,


Copyright Langdon Palmer 2010