When our car battery loses power, we often take out the jumper cables, open the hood, and jumpstart the battery to give it new life. It’s the same thing with our spiritual lives—occasionally we need to step back, open the hood on our lives, and see if our spiritual life needs a jumpstart too.
A tool we can use to evaluate our spiritual lives is called Finding Flow.
Years ago, while studying to become a spiritual director, as part of the coursework, we learned about saints and spiritual masters, including Saint Benedict. Benedict, a fifth-century monk who started the first monastery, wanted to give his monks a template for finding balance between daily work and prayer (ora et labora). He called it a Rule of Life.
The monks had to create an individual Rule which became their guiding principle, a framework for finding inner peace and balance in their daily lives. Today, we might call it a personal mission statement.
As part of our three years of spiritual direction classes, we were tasked with the assignment to create our Rule of Life. As I pondered, I looked to the spiritual giants we studied. I noted how each man and woman—Saint Benedict, Saint Francis, Julian of Norwich, Saint Teresa of Avila, Martin Luther, and others—had four common characteristics that shaped their lives.
•First, they took daily time for solitude, to be alone with God—time to meditate and listen.
•Second, they read the scriptures and the work of spiritual teachers to learn wisdom.
•Third, they surrounded themselves with people who inspired them to grow.
•Finally, they discovered their unique talents and gifts and used them in life-giving ways for themselves and others.
I shaped my Rule of Life around the ancient wisdom of Benedict and the other spiritual masters. The following became my Rule, the guiding principle we can use to evaluate our lives so we can find deeper inner peace and balance. I offer it to you, so you can incorporate it into your daily life.
1.Solitude: establishing rituals to spend daily “quiet time” to deepen our relationship with God
2.Spiritual reading: delving into books that teach and inspire
3.Community: surrounding ourselves with people who nudge us to grow
4.Contemplative Action: discovering our unique gifts and talents and using them to make the world a better place
When put into regular practice, these guideposts form healthy habits that help us experience abiding joy. We can take Benedict’s wisdom, even if we’re not monks, and find unique ways to translate it into modern life. We can look at our lives through the lens of these guideposts to find balance. Wholeness.
For shorthand, I call this Rule of Life, “finding flow.” Flow means being one with the Divine Spirit who opens our hearts, allowing us to experience inner peace, balance, and wholeness.
Finding flow involves adopting spiritual practices to exercise our souls, just like going to the gym or taking daily walks to help maintain strong healthy bodies.
Consider taking time to look at each of the above four pillars to assess your spiritual life. Check your spiritual battery by giving each of the four a ranking from 1-10 to discover which ones are full and which ones need your attention.
When all four guideposts are fully charged, it’s amazing how God deepens our relationship with him as he invites us daily to find flow.
—brian j plachta