by The Rev. Eric S. Cooter
Benedict of Nursia, better known as St. Benedict, would normally be commemorated on the liturgical calendar on Sunday July 11. Because all Sundays are feast days of Our Lord, we would normally move this Feast to commemorate Benedict, to the first weekday following the Sunday. St. Benedict has had a major influence on monasticism and especially on our Anglican spirituality. The Rule of St. Benedict focused on many aspects of life and it was developed so that anyone could follow it. One key to the rule was that it embraced the notion of moderation and balance. “Moderation is key to the Rule of St. Benedict. He did not want his monks fasting or praying too much, but he did not want them to do the opposite, either. Instead, he called for a healthy balance in life, and it is this that appeals to many lay people.” (Srubras 2010)
Balance in life is difficult to attain. We are pulled in so many directions, and sometimes one area of life is in competition with another, for our time and effort. Benedict however, encouraged balance in life. Three areas of our lives always seem to require particular attention: recreation, work, and our spiritual lives (corporate worship, spiritual disciplines, private prayer, etc). It seems that when any one part of our life gets too much of our time and effort, the other areas of life suffer. Too much work leaves little time for prayer and quiet time with God. Too much work also takes away from time for recreation. Recreation (re- creation) is not merely “killing time” and relaxing, but it is a time set aside to help restore us to wholeness. For some of us it may be hobbies like quilting, sewing, cooking, gardening, fishing, golfing, painting, flying or some other pursuit that is enjoyable, and one that harnesses our natural ability to create. We need this time to be whole persons created in the image of God. When any one area of our lives wars against another, we are out of balance and other areas and relationships suffer.
Keep in mind; our lives are not easily segmented into neatly defined boxes. For some of us, we find that the boundaries between recreation, work, and spirituality are very vague. When we discover God’s active presence in our work, recreation, and prayer life balance occurs because we are rooted in God. For Benedict, balance was not about meticulously dividing time and effort between multiple areas of life. Balance was about living in an awareness that our work and efforts do not have to war with our time of prayer, our time in silence with God, and in our time to join God in the act of ongoing creation. As co-authors with God in the narrative of salvation and restoration, we are vessels for the Spirit’s re-creation work in and through us.
Srubras, Rachel. “Oblation.” 2010. http://www.curledup.com/oblation.htm (accessed June 2010).