by the Rev. Charlie Dupree
Yesterday was the feast day of St. Benedict of Nursia (c. 540). Benedict founded twelve communities for monks at Subiaco, Lazio, Italy (about 40 miles to the east of Rome), before moving to Monte Cassino in the mountains of central Italy. Benedict’s main achievement, his Rule of Saint Benedict, contains a set of rules for his monks to follow. While the “rules” are there to help monastics achieve a certain balance between work and prayer, they are better seen as guides that help a community live together as instruments of hospitality, worship, and service.
The psalm appointed for Benedict’s day of commemoration is Psalm 1:
Happy are they who have not walked in the counsel of the wicked, *
nor lingered in the way of sinners,
nor sat in the seats of the scornful!
Their delight is in the law of the LORD, *
and they meditate on his law day and night.
They are like trees planted by streams of water,
bearing fruit in due season, with leaves that do not wither; *
everything they do shall prosper.
I like to think that Benedict’s rule, as well as any other rule of life that we adopt, should help us find fulfillment. The psalmist tells us that those who follow God’s Law – those who meditate on them day and night – are “like trees planted by streams of water.”
Can you imagine a tree planted by a stream? My imagination calls to mind a willow – or some other tree that has the ability to move, sway, and swift. These trees bend; they do not break. I think this is what rules of life, patterns of prayer, rhythms of worship, and guiding spiritual norms are intended to do. They ground us in our source while also allowing us to remain flexible. They are intended to help us prosper and bear fruit . . . maybe not instantly, but in due time.
Do you have a rule of life? Do you have a spiritual framework or pattern in place that reminds you of your source even while living in the midst of the changes and chances of life? Even a simple pattern of church-going, daily prayer, or reading scripture can be a beginning. Add to this time with friends, time with self, and time with God and earth. . . . before you know it, you just might take a deep breath, and notice the richness of God’s blessings in new and beautiful ways.
See you in church,