Last year, as an assignment for Prayer, Presence & Practice, I received the assignment to write out my Rule of Life. While not exactly a Rule, what I turned in are some principles that I try to live by, and I share them here for whoever might find them helpful.
- Have a voice. Know yourself.
- Commit to living out the image of God that is within you, to allowing identity to overflow into actions.
- Follow your joy.
- Be interested in growth.
- Allow events to change you.
- Ask basic, stupid questions, and find unexpected answers.
- Ask complex, interesting questions, and research for the most satisfying answers.
- Look for more livable ways to define and live the good life.
This piece stems from my practice of silence, in which I not only learned the power of my voice but how to handle it with care and strength for both others and myself. My search is not simply for a career but a vocation, which I understand as identity-in-action. No one can tell me what this is; I must know and hear my own voice. It is not sufficient to have a self that is only a self in relation.
- Have courage.
- Courage to say no, courage to say yes. Remember that saying yes “to will the one thing” means saying no to lots of other things.
- Remember that we all suffer. Keep going.
- Lean into the pain, find what it has to teach you.
As someone who knows narrative and is intuitive, I often know where a trajectory will take me before I get there. I must remind myself that all good stories require conflict. Often, the work that must be accomplished requires leaning into the pain of my story. It’s those moments that I want to stop that I must find courage to keep going into the discomfort and hurt—nothing has taught me this more clearly than writing. Additionally, I must have strong boundaries in order to accomplish what I’m meant to rather than becoming distracted in others’ callings.
- Be vulnerable.
- Pursue relationships that might not work out.
- Show hospitality that will likely never be returned.
- Risk emotionally.
- Laugh, loudly.
- Cry, openly and without shame.
- Believe in the holy contour of life.
Relationships are important for a full life. My life is not only about my work but about being with others well, which requires such openness and risk for a certain level of intimacy.
- Be grounded in physicality; know your embodiment.
- Sweat often. Sweat is your prayer.
- Practice yoga. Run. Practice krav maga. Go dancing.
- Breathe deeply and mindfully. Breath is your prayer, too.
- Drink lots of water. Eat colorful plants that died just recently.
Beginning to articulate body as prayer has been a theme in this term’s other papers, so I won’t reiterate here.
- Value your creative process.
- Mantra: good artists borrow, great artists steal. Keep a swipe file.
- You are powerful enough to make new words and new symbols.
- Listen attentively and carefully.
- Take field trips.
- Remember. Carry a notebook and pen. Write things down. Revisit journals.
- Fail. Fail again. Fail better. Fail faster.
- Collaborate. Everyone has something to offer.
I do believe that writing is a task I am mean to be working at. Guidelines are helpful in achieving that, in figuring out the way and the content.
- Live with simplicity.
- Know kinship with creation.
- Garden. What you do the earth, you do to yourself.
- Enjoy the sun. Sit in the grass. Enjoy rainy days, too.
- Don’t be cool.
- You don’t need more clothes, gadgets, social media presence, or anything else trying to sell a false version of the good life. Consume less.
- In general: reuse, repurpose, and make what you can
- The pursuit of [material] happiness is the source of much unhappiness.
- Find a rhythm of work and rest.
- Daily, weekly, yearly.
- Keep a daily routine… but don’t be rigid. Stay up late when ideas are happening. Get out of bed when they wake you up. And keep human! See people, go places.
I’m concerned about the consumer-driven narrative of today’s culture; there are other ways to live that have been livable and well lived for centuries and centuries.
- Find a third way.
- It’s not just about looking forward to Resurrection on the other side of Death, it’s about finding a third way, a way in-between the black/white paradigms.
- Think in terms other than good/bad, or find other ways to define those terms.
- Follow your joy.
I’ve always struggled with darknesses; this past year has been especially difficult and I don’t expect that to go away as I start to work on putting words on pages. I need to find a way to navigate, a way to hope more than I despair and to know glory without being overwhelmed by it.