As a licensed minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) I have an educational component that I have to complete each year. This year that educational piece was spiritual formation. It was taught by Dr. Tim Hessel-Robinson from Brite divinity school at TCU.
It has been a very good class this year and has challenged me as well as convicted me. I had 3 books to read. Soul Feast, Thirsty for God and Practicing our Faith. As I read them in many ways I felt so insufficient in my spiritual walk. A few years ago as a lay person I was very devoted to reading the bible and doing bible studies and had a rich, full prayer life. As my plate became more full as a part-time pastor I began reading other spiritual books but my bible reading stopped. My prayer life was still there but not as strong.
As time went on and some work challenges increased my reading came to a halt and my prayer life became more random. I've really not been very focused spiritually over the last couple of years.. Throw in a Disciples history class with a ton of reading last year and my spiritual disciplines came to a halt...
Enter spiritual formation class. I knew it was something I needed but my life had a bad routine and it was not something that was going to be easy to get back in to. I didn't even get the first book read before the first class.
This discussions in class were very good. I enjoyed how Tim led each class like a worship service. It made it different and cast a completely different atmosphere over the situation had he not done so. We had 3 classes through the year. The first one focusing on personal spirituality, the second on community (church/SS etc), and the third focused on social engagement (justice etc).
As we moved through the class I was really feeling my spirit drawn back to a set of spiritual disciplines like I used to hang on to a few years ago..but I just wouldn't make the jump.
The last session began with some awesome discussions on earth care. It is to much to discuss here (may blog on it more later) but it gets my heart beating thinking about it again right now. Here are some links..
So then we go in to the afternoon session and we go back to that first book that I never finished.. called Soul Feast.. and we go to the end and Tim begins discussing a Rule of Life. They discuss it in Chapter 9 of the book. "A rule of life is a pattern of spiritual disciplines that provides structure and direction for growth in holiness."Marjorie Thompson (author) has some examples of rules of life different people have had. Different things that they do. Tim then asks us to put together our own rule of life to begin on Monday..
Dang.. just what I needed and just what I was not prepared to do on my own. Groups of us at tables put together our own rules and discussed them with each other and then we discussed them in the class for all to hear.
This is what I came up with.
Rule of Life for Artie
Get up and walk for 30-45 minutes
15 minutes of prayer
15 minutes of reading
clean up and go to work
be sure and listen to some spiritual music during the day.
30 minutes of reflection/meditation/prayer
Weekly- Some kind of recreation -softball, racquetball, dancing, biking, bowling, hiking, whatever but something that moves and is fun.
24 hours of silence and fasting
serve at cisc, love inc., or other charitable organization
find something I can change about my life to make it more green and do it daily.
Emmaus walk or other spiritual retreat
Tim told us to type it up with fancy letters on nice paper and frame it and post it someplace where we would see it daily...in our office, home etc. He also told us to not make it a burden.. it is a framework to live in to create a rhythm for living and spiritual growth.
He also told us that we should try what we put down for a couple of weeks then tweak it and make sure it works for us.
Well I've been at it for a week so far. It has been hard getting up at 5:00 a.m. and beginning my walk.. I've had some late nights and I've hit the snooze and put me a little behind. I've traded a few minutes of sleep for a few minutes of prayer/meditation a couple of mornings but I know I can also do that on the road with God as well.
The toughest part has been the evening time of reflection/meditation and prayer. Too much going on around the house and too much going on in my life it seems. I may have to re-think this part.. either that or just make it a little shorter but I'm going to work on it for another couple of weeks before I adjust.
I've also got to give myself a little time to get over my jet lag or whatever you want to call it. I get in to a sleepy funk every time we do a time change so this has been much like this.. so it hasn't been easy...but I guess if it was, everyone would do it. Well that sounded kind of arrogant..didn't mean for it too. How about this.. If it were easy it really wouldn't be a sacrifice.
So overall, living in to the rule has been good so far and I'm looking forward to my quarterly activities. I really appreciate the fact that Dr. Hessel-Robinson came and taught our licensed minister classes this year. It was a real blessing. He did a lot to enrich my life and the lives of others in the class.
It also got me walking more...7 1/2 miles last week. Big change from weeks before. Kinda holistic I think.. thanks Tim!! Very much!!