Intentional Margin for Abundant Living – The Joy of a Contemplative Rule of Life

Overwhelmed?

Exhausted?

Over Scheduled?

Not knowing when to say “no”?

 

“Are you tired?  Worn out?  Burned out on religion?  Come to me.  Get away with me and you’ll recover your life.  I’ll show you how to take a real rest.  Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it.

Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.

I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.  Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”  Matthew 11:28-30

 

For some, it may be a paradigm shift to think of placing supports that redirect to a path of restful joy in abundant living. It’s an invitation to be still in unforced, unhurried, rhythms of grace. It’s quite counterculture to being fueled by espresso and adrenaline that masquerade as self-control in the busyness of an over scheduled calendar.

Instead of a vast quantity, it would be similar to focusing on the most exquisite ingredients to place in a beautiful bowl for the most amazing recipe to be shared. Some of those ingredients may be intentional in the way time is spent, being fully present in the moments, and living with intentional supports growing towards a desired purpose, one including guarding those precious eight hours of sleep.

We all have a “Rule for Life”. It’s either intentional, or by default of the way we have always lived life. An intentional “Rule”, although a process to arrive at through prayer, Scripture, and guidelines can lead to further maturity and spiritual formation.

 

“Rule” from Latin regula or regulae, means basic principle, rule, or standard.

It relates to the spiritual ways of monks, especially St. Benedict around 540 A.D.

st benedict

 

A rule can be compared to a trellis; it helps the vines be cultivated in a well-ordered path of intentional growth that yields an abundance of fruit or an outcome of joy. It makes space for listening.

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It’s carried out in intentional routines placed in everyday living. It’s an intentional slowing. Are not the mature vines the ones cultivated to produce the most delectable fruit?

What if, through prayer, guidance, and contemplative thought one defined their roles to around five, placed margin in one’s life, reset to the point of being aware of even the melodious sound of the rustling of leaves of a cool autumn day, and woke intentional to have an hour to read for inspiration, prayer, and reflection?

The undesired result of default setting often produces stress, risk of chronic health issues, overeating, overspending, and a lack of self-control in addition to the relational tension with those closest.

An intentional Rule of Life would have been a beautiful standard for myself as our family found ourselves on a special needs journey with our youngest son.  It would have been a dramatic support in the midst of the stages of grief. Like most parents, I scoured scientific journal articles into seeing the sunrise, lost a rhythm of ordered sleep, and definitely didn’t resemble even a hint of an abundant life in the first few years. Soul nourishment to even reach depletion was lacking in reserves. Yet, through the beautiful ways that God often moves in seasons and time, I am celebrating this unhurried peaceful pace at the forefront and intentionally decreased the portion on my plate, which has ultimately been freeing.  I pray you prayerfully consider if creating an intentional Rule of Life would be a blessing to you and those closest to you.

 

For Contemplation:

Is the path you are on leading to the place you want to go?

How are your relationships, health, stewardship of your time and talent, recreational time, or Sabbath rest affected by your current Rule of Life?

 

Books for further thought:

Margin, by Richard A. Swenson, M.D.

Crafting a Rule of Life, by Stephen A. Macchia

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The Spiritual Discipline of Prayer-Filled Mindfulness

May this tool of the Prayer of Examen encourage you in your walk with Christ. It’s when we stop to reflect and “be” in His Presence, that we “become” all He designed. It’s then, that the abundant life promised, despite the circumstances, seem to appear before ones very eyes. It's when one lives in the intentional and purposeful margin of being and not overdoing, being led, that life also becomes full of sweet adventure and numerous "God coincidences".
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