This fall, external forces like a divided nation and contentious election daily test our faith, hope, and love. Perhaps more than ever, we are acutely aware of dreams and hopes, as well as discouragements and fears. We know we need to reconnect to an inner force of love, hope, and peace. But there are times we feel unmoored, flailing about in that storm of external forces. We seek an internal anchor. A grounding. A rootedness.
The Lord gives us a straightforward and simple two-step, inner and outer path to peace and hope: Love.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. And love your neighbor as yourself.”
The first step takes us inward into prayer and relationship with God: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.”
The question is how to commit or re-commit to that inner journey. The answer is with intentionality and purpose. We are all beginners, again and again.
This weekend on All Saints Day, we remember those who have tread the path before us. Saints who make God’s love visible to us in a variety of special ways. Most followed a Rule of Life that supported them. The word rule comes from the Latin regula, meaning a gentle pattern – not a rigid law.
The concept is ancient, rooted in Christian monastic origins. In the 6th century St. Benedict developed a Rule of Life for his community, which he lovingly described as “a school for beginners.” The basis of that rule was a balance between prayer and action – between inward and outward commitment.
Below are some steps to creating your own Rule of Life:
- Identify your core values and life principles – perhaps looking at Saints, dead and living, whom you’ve admired or emulated.
- Consider how you might live into Benedicts’ vows of obedience (listening), silence (using words sparingly, carefully and lovingly), and humility (real and honest self-awareness in relation to God and others). Apply the values and principles you chose to write your own vows in the context of your life.
- Commit to developing some habits of body, mind, spirit, relationships, sharing resources, community, and recreation. -From Love is the Way.”
- Make a regular schedule for silence, stillness and prayer. Be rooted and grounded in regular practices of meditation, breath prayer, reading and reflecting on Scripture, and resting in God’s love.
In Ephesians Chapter 3, St. Paul passionately reminds us that we can, and must, “be rooted and grounded in love.” He also insists that we can “be filled” again and again.
We simply need to integrate what is real and lasting into our lives. We are called to live into the great yet simple secret that the psalmist hears God saying:
“Be Still and Know that I am God.”
You can create your own Rule of Life. There is no right or wrong way. You can:
First, be realistic. This isn’t about achieving someone else’s ideal. Be true to yourself and real.
Second, be humble. Real humility does not mean being hard on yourself with regrets or self-blame. Begin with a gentle acceptance of yourself, both strengths and weaknesses. Allow God to transform you from there.
Third, do it now! Don’t put it off. Your Rule of Life will ebb and flow, changing with you over time. Allow yourself to sense God’s tug on your heart, now.
The first step is inward. The second step moves us outward: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Again, on All Saints we remember those who have tread the path before us. Saints who actively make God’s love visible to us in a variety of special ways: in the service of God and the Church; in the speaking or writing of words that continue to nurture us; in living heroically in difficult situations; in quietly visiting the sick, friendless and imprisoned; in being a courageous and prophetic voice for justice.
Today, we are affected by many external forces and sources of division, the latest of which is the presidential election. Forward Movement and the Episcopal Church of the USA are leading a Novena of prayer for our nation. If you are drawn to participate, just click on the following link:
Finally, I share with you my prayer for this election season:
O Lord our God, the fountain of all love , wisdom and peace, lead your people to your will for our nation during these troubled times. Guide us to discern and elect a president and other leaders who will listen to Your Spirit of Love, protect our God-given freedoms, and lead us into justice and truth, for the sake of all your beloved children. Where there is division or discord, unite us in love and grace. Lord, protect our hearts, for they are the wellspring of life. Enable our nation to fulfill your purposes, through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen.
The Reverend Dr. Lynn P. Ronaldi, Rector