I wondered if this Pocket Prayers series was relevant in these unpredictable times. Then I realised that this is a key time to build healthy patterns for ourselves when there is so much uncertainty. The diary symbolises a life rhythm; not so much a prayer practice as a collection of habits.
I recently read ‘The Common Rule’ by Justin Whitmel Earley, in which he talks about having a ‘Rule of Life’:
“The word rule is used because it comes from the Latin word regula, associated with a bar or trellis, the woodwork on which a plant grows. The idea is that we (like plants) are always growing and changing…The rule of life is intended to pattern communal life in the direction of purpose and love instead of chaos and decay.”
A rhythm of life is built of habits. When considering this I find it helpful to ask myself: what do I want to reap? And so what do I need to sow? What do I want my life to look like? What habits do I need to build towards that?
One area I often think about (frequently with guilt) is my phone and social media use. I want to stay connected with my people, and be up to date with the news, but I also need to be present with our folks in front of us. This tension is always there but is magnified by social distancing and isolation. If ‘attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity’ (Simone Weil), who/what are we giving our attention to? If we want to connect with our immediate family in this time, is our phone use getting in the way of that? I have started switching my phone off on Sunday afternoons, which has felt like a healthy step.
Some of the other regular habits in our house are: we go for wanders outside, I try not to go on social media in my bed, and I regularly meet up with a mentor (virtually for now). These are all habits which help me to be a healthier, more whole person.
“What we so often overlook in our abstract hunt for beautiful lives is the striking plainness of the moments that make up the days that make up our lives. What we often overlook in our heroes are the one million tiny (but so carefully chosen) habits that got them there. By overlooking them, we overlook the way the most ordinary habits of limitation create the most extraordinary lives of meaning.” (Justin Whitmel Earley)
Perhaps you could look through the Pocket Prayer practices and choose one to experiment with, building it into your daily or weekly schedule to see what might suit you.
This is not about complicating our lives, but rather simplifying. We make decisions ahead of time and build healthy patterns into our lives to free us up. What habits you are already implementing in your life to bring you closer to God, others, yourself or creation? What one small daily habit would you like to implement in your life now?
Justin Whitmel Earley currently has helpful Spiritual Rhythms for Quarantine on his website.
This is the final post in our Pocket Prayers series.