In her book entitled Sacred Rhythms, Ruth Haley Barton includes a chapter about how to develop a personal rule of life. Barton explains that a rule of life seeks to answer the question: How do I want to live so I can be who I want to be? The following entry is provided by Rev. Dianne Lawhorn, a Spirited Life pastor from Cohort Two. She recently crafted a personal rule of life for herself and wanted to share her perspective.
I was given an assignment recently to create a “simple, sane, rule of life.” As I looked over the instructions for this assignment, I saw words that resounded with my soul like “arranging our lives around our heart’s deepest desire . . . patterns most conducive to leading full & joyful lives . . . getting a bodily sense of where we might be called to live most vibrantly.”
This is something that I have been considering for quite some time now. I am convinced that the rhythm that our culture advocates is not good for our minds, bodies, or spirits. It’s an endless hamster’s wheel of activity, responsibility, and availability that is anything but life-giving. I think that Jesus desperately wants more for us and from us than this. I believe Jesus wants new life for us and this life requires a new pattern for living; a new rhythm that incorporates work and rest, and one that results in wholeness.
This lesson has been a difficult one for me to learn, being a person who has pursued activity, productivity, and most of all, work, my whole life. I feel that Jesus speaks tenderly to me in this saying, “Oh, dear one- your heart is so good, but this is not what I wanted for you, or what your calling requires of you. I want more for you than this- I want you to be well, healthy, and whole. Then, what you’ll have to offer will be so much better than anything you can produce on your own.”
This message has inspired me to look towards finding a better way to do life and ministry. It has reminded me that what I need most is a new rhythm. This draws my mind to what God’s dream for me in this might be. This has not yet been revealed, but I believe in time, it will. For now, my job is to create the kind of life that will allow me to be receptive to discerning whatever this dream might be. My first step is to create a balanced rhythm, where work, rest, and play flow together in harmony. This is the piece of the dream that is my work to do on this particular day. The rest will come; it will be revealed in time.
How I envision this rhythm is like a dance, to a Trinitarian beat, that is full of intentionality, but expressed with the kind of holy ease that I have been longing for. So, the rule that I have created is a dance of things that I believe Christ wants for me like silence, solitude, and stillness. I offer this to Christ and pray that the Spirit will lead my every step in the dance; that this rule will become my guideline for abundant living, thanks be to God.
– Rev. Dianne Lawhorn, M. Div.
—compiled by Angela MacDonald