In the middle of the winter, I traveled 16 hours by train to a place at 1500 meters high in the mountains where it was born:
The workbook of The Rule of Life
I’m happy to show you a piece of the front (and backcover below) of the workbook! I only have to translate it, give me a few weeks!
The grape vine: as you see the grape that grows towards the light and along a trellis, such is a Rule of Life for man.
For years, I have carried the idea of a Rule of Life with me. I’ve been living with it myself since 2018. Now is the time to share it. First, I reduced the thick binder with sheets full of scraps, notes, and ideas that I have collected over the years to 1 folder the days before I traveled.
The thick folder became 1 folder.
Without the internet and with a work file on a specially purchased tablet, I started at the beginning of writing my workbook.
High in the mountains of Central Europe, Advent 2022.
On a beautiful summer day in July 1985, seven sisters climbed the mountain and moved into a former almshouse. First it was the home of children with lung problems. Then it became housing for those starting a monastic life of silence and contemplation.
Among the luggage of the seven sisters was a bunch of sunflowers, a Bible, and an icon. On day three of their visit, they held a simple chapel.
Life continued for these seven sisters, who have now grown into a community of 30 mostly young sisters who have something in common: They live in the vicinity of the Lord, in their hermitage, four by four meters or less, without property, in simplicity and silence. Communal prayer breaks the silence three times daily. People communicate the essentials through notes in a common room.
A young sister quietly meets me at the wooden gate. She shows me the way to my room and cheerfully says, “Shall we greet the Lord first?” as if she walks with Him for hours every day. That is exactly what she is doing, because I am a guest in the Carthusian Monastery, where silence and worship are the only things that matter. Together, we bow before the icon of the Trinity that is so dear to me. It hangs life-size here in the wooden chapel, and you can sit at the Lord’s table whenever you wish.
That’s my language, and I sink to my knees.
Gently, I slide into the prevailing rhythm of silence and prayer times. It is freezing -18C outside, and there is a packed 40 cm of snow around us. The icicles hang almost a meter from the gutter. The sun shines high in the sky during the day and the stars twinkle at night.
H: The sister brings me to my room, the central point of which is the praying corner.
Tomorrow, there’s another day—even if it includes a 16-hour-long train journey.
Are you wondering what the letters of my anagram represent?
Here is the key to the Rule of Life: “Hold On”:
H of Holy ground or Sacred Soil: A good start, a solid foundation.
O for Organizing: Standing still: Give each time segment a goal.
L Let’s get started! Get moving now.
D Dear ones around you, connecting with others: The Beating Heart.
O Oh, my body! Pay attention to your body: Nutrition, exercise and rest
N Nurture your soul: What makes you happy? Feed your sensitive soul.
. And finally: The art of finishing.
Rule of life for outside the monastery
It is not difficult to live with rhythm and tranquility in this contemplative monastery. Being here is a feast for your senses! Like a heartbeat, the church bells and prayer times determine the rhythm of everyone who has chosen to live here.
How do I hold on to any of this when I am again preoccupied with the worries and obligations of everyday life? That’s the question I’m toying with. During retreats, I share more about my experiences in this monastery. And I am also offering it online!
What can you expect in the workbook I made in the mountains?
In the workbook, I continually take elements from the monastic life as a starting point and then make the translation to life outside the monastery. The workbook is practical and general, and you will focus on your own life and circumstances. Your life and journey is the guideline.
The Rule of Life that you find is a framework, a frame, that you can fill in yourself accompanied by your Lord. You may set accents that are part of your unique life and the gifts and obligations that come with it.
Each chapter has a prayer, a verse, a picture, a quote from the Rule of Life literature (yet to be translated) and a description from inside the monastery with the translation to life outside the monastery. Through the questions at the end of each chapter and the concrete steps you will take, you shape your Rule of Life according to your unique circumstances.
Living with a light-hearted Rule of Life has given me a lot of peace, and it is my personal conviction of its value that I can share with you, so that you too can find peace in a troubled, hectic, demanding pace of life.
I hope you enjoy living with a Rule of Life as much as I do. What a fun, creative process that gives peace and order. I’m addicted! Creating with your Creator is as beautiful as it sounds!
Do you see that heavy backpack? Our daughters, Marijke and Judith came also for a few days to review the year. It was precious beyond words. Among other stuff like oil from our dear friends Teodor and Ileana who gave a bottle of the best virgin oil, are also the precious socks from Serbia. Click on the underlined words and read that story.
I share life with a rule of life regularly at personal retreats. I can set up an online retreat entitled “How to live with a Rule of Life.” Let me know if you are interested. If we can get there are five people signed up responding, we’ll start.
Let me know. I’d love to hear. (it’s rather scary to share something that is so very close to my heart and sending it into the wide world;-)
Kind regards, Janneke