As part of my Lenten disciplines, I’m using a tool from The Society of Saint John the Evangelist called “Growing a Rule of Life.”
As Marjorie Thompson writes:
Certain kinds of plants need support in order to grow properly. Tomatoes need stakes, and beans must attach themselves to suspended strings… human beings are much like these plants… we need structure in order to have enough space, air, and light to flourish. Structure gives us the freedom to grow as we are meant to.
And a rule of life is just that kind of structure and support. There have been times in my life when I have practiced this kind of rule of life: a college covenant discipleship group comes to mind. But it has been a while since I have formed one and I’m looking forward to this season of structured discernment.
Today’s question from SSJE asks: How might the rhythms you observe in nature inform the way you live?
I was struck today by the snow falling outside of my window. During this time of year, it seems like we find ourselves in an endless cycle of snow, melting/slush/dirty heaps of snow, and then it snows once again.
This morning, we gathered for Community Ashes at a local coffee shop. We gathered to remember our common humanity and sinfulness. We gathered in solidarity with those across this world who are suffering and mourning. And when I pulled up to the coffee shop at 6:20 am… there was that gross, dirty snow all along the sides of the road. I pulled out the supplies and we began to impose the dark, sooty, ashes – signs of our mortality and repentance – upon one another’s foreheads.
Then a snow flake fell.
And before long, the whole world outside the window was blanketed in silent, fluffy, pristine snow.
On the very day we echo the words of Psalm 51, pure white snow fell from the sky.
Have mercy on me, God, according to your faithful love!
Purify me with hyssop and I will be clean;
wash me and I will be whiter than snow.
I am a human being, like any other human being. Though I strive for perfection and seek to become more and more like Christ, I have a long way to go.
Just like nature spoke aloud today that fresh snow or bright sunlight will take away the grime, so my life needs God’s mercy and the joy of salvation to cover my mistakes, to melt away my imperfections, to renew my spirit. Over and over again.