Do you like writing out goals each year? Do you have a 3 year, 5 year or even 10 year plan for your life? Well, then let me tell you... you and I are very different. I've tried to make goals and plans, but I always used to paralyze in the process because my thought was if I wrote it down and didn't accomplish it I would have failed. I've since realized that it's okay not to make those kinds of plans and still have conversations and that's a good place for me. So when a teacher in my program came to teach us about creating a "Rule of Life" I was more than a little leery.
First, there was the word "rule". Mmm yeah, rules aren't really my thing. And then there was the whole idea of creating what seemed like a "to do" list for my life. But I quickly realized that's not what a Rule of Life (or Rhythm of Life, if you prefer) is all about.
A Rule of Life was started by mystic desert mothers and fathers, but St. Benedict made it more well-known in the 6th century with his community as a way for them to live out their vocation alone or together. It is not a set of rules that restrict, but a framework for freedom. An ever-growing, changing commitment to live your life a certain way, rooted in Christ. There are some really great resources out there and this blog isn't about telling you what a Rule of Life is, but more about what is has informed in me. (However, if you're interested I'm always up for a good chat!) And therefore... here is the Rule of Life I created for myself.
There are so many ways to create a rule of life and they are varied in form. I did first make more of a list/outline format, but that was pretty boring to look at, so I took what I had written down and made a format that seemed more like "me." All of the photos are my own and they represent whatever the corresponding number is at the bottom means to me.
But what I want to tell you about is number 14. It's a weekly desire of mine to learn something new. Some new craft or research of some kind. I've been really interested in making bread for awhile. Not the kind you bake in the pan, but the kind that holds its own round shape and is all crusty on the outside.
Artisan bread, which I found out just means handmade, can take on a number of forms. For my first attempt I decided to go with a simple dough of just four ingredients: water, yeast, salt and flour. What I didn't realize was that it would take so long to transform these ingredients. Even the most simple bread takes hours to wait...I mean make. As you can tell the waiting really made an impact on me. There is no rushing the process or the bread just won't come out edible, or at least good.
(Ignore the fact that the actual loaf of bread already has a slice or two cut out of it...as I said, waiting is hard!)
As I think about the process, the ideas seem to speak to many other things in life. Adding the ingredients in the right order, the water at the correct temperature. Then mixing. But not over mixing. And the waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Even the temperature for the waiting makes a difference in how the bread rises. For something to fully develop or come to fruition it must have time to sit, grow, make space, rest, sometimes get squashed back down and rise again. Then it gets put through the fire. And all of those things inform the bread.
I'm grateful I'm not a loaf of bread and that I'm not measured by my bread making skills. (This pictured loaf was my second loaf of the first batch of dough - I forgot to take a picture of the first, and even though it was sad looking was quickly devoured by three 10-year-old children with, ahem, not very distinguishing taste buds.) But the desire to learn something new informs who I am. It teaches me about the Divine and the Divine in me. Who I am in the waiting. And being patient. And sitting. Making space. Resting.