What makes a good day in your life?
It’s a question we’ve examined on this blog more than once, starting with my mission statement:
To prepare for the hour of my death.
One good day at a time.
And to help others do the same.
Now that I’m enjoying all the benefits of living next to two monastic communities, I’m hoping to absorb the long influence of Benedict of Nursia (480-550), the abbot who wrote one of the most influential books on how to spend one’s time in community: The Rule of Saint Benedict.
Benedict has influenced me since my first fellowship at Valparaiso University. Both for his rule and for this admonition found in the rule:
Toward that end, I have constructed my own Personal Rule of Life.
Here’s how my days will be spent beginning tomorrow.
Or at least this is how I imagine them now.
Personal Rule of Life
6-7 a.m. Awaken without alarm. Before getting out of bed, thank God for this day and for my most precious ones. Wash, dress, while thinking about the day ahead. There will be 1440 minutes. A gift. How will I use them?
7 a.m. Prime time. Silence and prayer. Journal the intentions for the day.
7:30-9 a.m. Reading and Writing toward project goals
Break for ten minutes. Walk around. Do chores. Step outside and say hello to the lake. Note subtle changes as seasons turn.
9:10-10:30 a.m. Reading and Writing
Break for ten minutes. Outside if possible.
10:40-11:40 a.m. Read and write.
Walk to Abbey Church
12 noon Be in Choir stall #2 before the bells begin to chime for Mid-day Prayer with the monks
12:15- 12:45 p.m. Lunch in my office or the student center
1-2:30 p.m. Read and Write
Break. Wander the halls in the Quad. Look for a monk or a colleague. 🙂
2:40-4 p.m. Read and Write
Break. Make a cup of tea or coffee in the lounge.
4:10-5:30 p.m. Read and Write.
5:30-6:30 p.m. Leave office. Walk to gym. Rotate activities. Weights, walking, running. Average distance: 4 miles.
6:30-7:30 p.m. Dinner/ phone call with family
7:30-9 p.m. Read and Write. Or attend lectures, etc.
9-10 p.m. Unwind with meditative reading. Conscious review of the day’s intentions. Express gratitude for the gifts of the day.
Author Caroline Webb, in a new book called How to Have a Good Day, has gathered 600 social science research studies into one place. My Personal Rule above attempts to take her advice summarized here. I’ve also drawn from blogger friend Elaine Mansfield’s “Ten Ways to Create Sacred Space Every Day.”
I’m excited about getting to the place where I know the campus and its monastic rhythms well enough, at least as a visitor and scholar, to create my own structure. It’s a scaffolding on which to build. I know my attention will stray and other invitations and travels will break the pattern.
But then, I’ll ask forgiveness and begin again. Monasteries specialize in redemption. 🙂
Oh, I see it’s almost time for mid-day prayer. Must go!
See you later. Have a GOOD DAY!
How do you feel looking at this Personal Rule? Would it drive you crazy? Do you crave structure? What advice do you have for me? For yourself? How do we make our days the best they can be?