The Stuff of "Real Stuff" Hours (Part 2)

"Life's a journey, not a destination." -- Aerosmith


Life is a mystery.  A puzzle, really, made of thousands of pieces that need placing in just the right spots.  These pieces -- circumstances, needs, whims wants -- bombard each of us nearly 24/7.  This or that emergency clamoring for attention;  assorted and sundry advertisements on the television, radio, and internet promising items and services that will "make life easier";  Must-Do lists a mile long with so many varied activities -- dance and piano for the children, a work supervisor's demands, keeping the spouse happy, grocery shopping, cleaning, and laundry;  and personal projects that are each a puzzle in their own right.  There's a place for everything and everything in its place -- but it takes time.

As previously discussed, time (like any natural resource) is limited and finite.  Once it's spent, it's gone forever -- and unlike riches or wealth or prestige, we can't "earn" more.  Time spent is just


If you're anything like me, you find yourself in a constant and chronic state of Overwhelm, puzzle pieces scattered about you.  You crave, in those moments of sheer chaos, moments of pure peace.  You fantasize about seconds carved out for the sole purpose of soul purpose -- not grand moments;  life is "grand" enough already.  No, yours is a dream of tranquility.  Of putting away the pointless and settling into Solitude.  Meaning.

You walk through the woods, feet sinking deep into the soft, dampened crunch of old and newly fallen leaves.  Dry branches brush your shoulder, brittle fingers reaching out from textured tree trunk, raw things serving as poetic reminder of the world around you: sharp cold air on your cheek, a tendril of hair falling across your eyes, an inhaled breath of almost-December, damp moss, crystalline sky, the tang of wood smoke.  Silence is everywhere.  God is everywhere, in lungs, in leaves, in light.

These moments, are the truest.  The most Holy.

These moments define your purpose with a pinpoint clarity.  These moments define your priorities, the Important Things amid the jumble of noise.

What are your priorities?

I'm learning what mine are.  I've made it a priority to do so.  I'm intentionally distancing myself from the overwhelm of the puzzle, laying out all of my pieces in a logical, orderly fashion so as to better see the whole -- and the details.

Many years ago I stumbled upon a book in the public library, Amazing Grace, by Kathleen Norris, a Benedictine oblate and writer who first introduced me, a wholly Protestant girl, to the world of Catholicism.  I had no desire to become Catholic, but there was a beauty and a rhythm to this branch of faith that I found appealing, comforting.  Recently, I've dabbled once more in the world of Benedictine theology, and I've hit upon a beautiful practice that, in this season of my spiritual journey, resonates: crafting a Rule of Life.

The word "rule" comes from the Latin regula, meaning "standard" or "straight edge".  In a spiritual sense, a Rule of Life is a fence, a fluid and organic one, constructed of clods of firm earth or smooth stones, stacked just high enough to guide a soul on her path and long enough for the next leg of her journey.  The word "rule" has such an unyielding, almost strict connotation, but in the tradition of St. Benedict, a rule is actually a grace-centered path, heavily suffused with purpose, growth, and love-drenched Becoming. 

I can think of nothing holier.

Used in conjunction with the centuries-old Liturgy, my developing Rule of Life is becoming the foundation of my Real Life Hours, knitting together the ebb and flow of seasons and holidays (holy days) with the minutiae of every day.  There is a rhythm to life, the mundane mingling with scripture, lessening chaos and increasing mindfulness, nourishing the shift in my mind and heart, gently honing in on the vital in order to place pieces into their rightful place.


What do you truly desire in life?  In what will you immerse your Real Stuff Hours?  The mere vagaries of "family" or "hobbies" will not suffice here.  What are the tangible actions and relationships that draw from and encourage you onward in your ultimate priority: walking with the Father?  In a Rule of Life, all that you do is geared around this concept;  your Rule is your labyrinth, curling around itself and back and forth again, leading to your true center, the pulsating heart-desire to walk in holiness. 

Time well spent.

The Rule of Life is as individual and unique as its author and designer, but what makes it work is a deeper awareness of of God's breath in life.  Choices are made mindfully.  Successes come as a result of space having been made.  Mistakes aren't to be avoided;  they're miraculous twists and turns toward a greater goal … all part of the journey, part of the process of your Real Life Hours.

Piece after piece after piece, a turn, gentle pressure, and then a satisfactory, effortless shift.

it fits

Interested in learning more, or perhaps exploring the crafting of your own Rule of Life?  Here are some links to get your started:

"Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life". -- Galatians 6:4-5 (MSG)

Lauren BensonComment