Lent, that six week period before Easter during which Christians are to reflect on penitence and discipline, giving up those things which have become a stumbling block to or a distraction from our relationship with God. This year for Lent, instead of giving up something, I’m taking on an intense personal study on the Rule of St. Benedict to learn this ancient yet still relevant way of intentionally and thoughtfully listening for and living out God’s will. I’m not sure I can offer up a well articulated explanation for this, really, except that it’s what I feel led to do. I’m anxious and excited at the same time, knowing it is going to be a time of growth and formation for me.
I guess its part of a process that has been going on for a few months in which I’ve been discovering some behaviors and patterns that keep me from experiencing the fullness of my current relationships. There is much behind this that I’ve chosen not to blog about although I’ve journalled extensively about it privately. I’ve been peeling away at layers and removing what I put up as protective coverings to reveal unhealed wounds underneath. But just as cutting an onion produces tears yet flavors dishes deliciously I know that the end result will be well worth it. I’m working through the layers of all of the notions I have about what others want or think they need me to be and realizing who I am simply as a child of God. And just as sometimes a wound needs to be reopened and treated differently to allow proper healing, I’ve had to reawaken some painful memories to let them heal rightly.
The books I’m reading are:
Seeking God: The Way of St. Benedict by Esther de Waal
This is an overview of the Rule and a good place to begin discovering what the Rule as a whole teaches: God’s presence is everywhere and seeking Him is not what we do but how we live.
The Rule of Benedict: A Spirituality for the 21st Century by Joan Chittister
This one is a commentary on the Rule itself. It breaks the Rule down into small chunks with Chittister’s commentary on how it applies to our lives today. It is meant to be read daily so that the entire Rule and commentary is read through completely three times a year. I’ll read the whole of it during Lent and then settle into the daily reading going forward.
To be honest, a week in I’m already behind in my reading. It’s been a week of irregular schedules and interruptions. In this time of taking on a study and formation that I’m excited about and long for, the demands of my time are greater than usual. It’s part of the struggle, right? This is part of the point of why I chose to study St. Benedict, to live the spirituality that it is so easy to segment into a “part” of life rather than letting it be life.
In the Prologue chapter, Joan Chittister says “This [living life well] is an enterprise between two spirits, in other words, God’s and our own. We will fail often, but God will not fail us and we must not stop.” I'm going to keep at it and I'll write about my progress.
I wish you all a blessed Lenten journey.