A rule of life is an old idea which has come back in fashion. Monks, nuns have always had a clear rule of life given in their order. I go to Glasshampton Monastery and the monks there eat silently and live mostly in silence - this is their rule of life.
But we all have a rule of life. It’s a commitment to live our life in a particular way. I suspect we have rules either adopted from our parents or sometime in the past we’ve decided to do this because… We all have rules we decide to live by - even if we haven’t written them down or even sometimes don’t know we have them!
I didn’t know I had the rule that dogs aren’t allowed on the furniture. It’s something I’ve always forbidden without thinking about it. It seems normal. Then my friend came with her big slobbery lurcher dog and she encouraged it to jump on the sofa. I’m glad you didn’t see my face!
As Christians we are encouraged to think about the rules we have around our faith so we develop ‘good habits’. We are encouraged to make these rules ourselves. Once we have developed a good habit it becomes normal practice. Even before I was a vicar I had a rule which said - pray and read my Bible for 20 minutes in the morning. I’m not saying I didn’t break this rule. But I had decided it helped me think and helped me love God more so I made it and tried to keep it.
One of my daughters always sends me a thank you letter after I’ve given her a present. Three of my other children don’t - I’m not saying they aren’t thankful but they don’t write and say so. That daughter who does, must have in her Rule of Life, a rule which says ‘Always say thank you in writing’. She’s chosen to do this intentionally. She’s as busy as my other three but for some reason she’s decided in the past that this is a good thing to do so she does it. What ‘Thank You’ rules do you have in your Rule of Life?
There are rules in our Rule of Life around food. Two of my children think my grandchildren should be encouraged to finish what’s on their plate. One daughter’s child is allowed to eat whatever she wants - which is difficult when she comes to my house. Our rules clash! What rules do you have around food and children?
Our Bishop of Liverpool is encouraging us to think about our Rule of Life around the categories of inner and outer journeys in our Christian Faith.
In the inner journey we are called by God:
In the outer journey we are sent by God
Over the next year or so, we’ll be thinking more of our own Rule of Life. If we don’t know what rules we have, we can’t think about them or change them. Making a Rule of Life for ourselves which is realistic and done with prayer is a good way of intentionally changing our lives for the better.
- Revd. Jan Ashton
Vicar of Hightown, Liverpool