Happy Secular New Year!
Every year I take a certain pride in reminding everyone who will listen that the Christian new year begins on the first Sunday of Advent. But in truth, I sit down at the beginning of the secular year and rewrite my personal rule of life. I go over the past year and rearrange my priorities and set intentions for the year ahead.
A Rule of Life is simply a setting out of the basic roles and intentions of your life. Mine is based in large part on two disparate sources. The first is secular: The 10 Natural Laws of Time and Life Management by Hyrum Smith, a book I read my first year of college. Being a creative person by nature, I was always writing and reading and looking at the world outside my head as an observer. This simple book was my first foray into goals and execution. It probably saved my college years from being a pile of projects and poor grades.
In the book I learned of Smith’s model to find out what matters. In the main example of the book, he asks you to make a list of those things that you would cross a wire set between the World Trade Center towers to save. From there, you clarified your priorities and values and set out to use your time on the most important things first.
Years later I discovered the Rule of Saint Benedict that gave me a model to articulate my understanding of what God is doing in the world and my life and to try to set out a richer model of life and values.
So every year I end the outgoing calendar with an examination and suitable celebration and confession, then I turn to the new year, rewriting my personal rule of life that begins with a list of my roles and values, rules for my own soul and spiritual practice, and intentions and goals for the year ahead.
I am sure you have some model for your life. Perhaps if not, you could set out a rule of life of your own. Share it with me if you dare. As we begin the new year, we will be studying the book St. Benedict’s Toolbox on Wednesday mornings that includes some directions on writing a rule of life along with other practices of life in God. Join us.
And let’s discover the new year together. God has great things in store for those who seek him in Christ.