Chapter 47 of the Rule can seem very outdated, even cumbersome. It is not a schedule or lifestyle we are familiar with, so we can get lost in the details. But when we sort through the specific admonitions, we find “a pearl of great price”—we find the invitation to live by the pace of grace.
If the old proverb “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” is correct, equally correct is that “all play and no work makes Jack a dunce.” The life God has in mind for us is a view of work that includes both pondering (lectio) and performing (labor). And added to these twin tasks is sufficient rest, both at night and at mid-day.
The result is a spiritual rhythm of engagement and abstinence—working and resting. It is a pace which bring health to body, mind, and spirit.
It is a rhythm we have all but lost today. Our lives have become frenetic and fretful due to all that makes up a 24/7 world. We have not only lost sight of the kind of pace Benedict’s Rule sets forth, we have also lost respect for it—viewing those with a more-contemplative bent as “lazy”—or worse—“unproductive.”
How sad! How heretical—when “busyness” is equated with virtue. Chapter 47 of the Rule is both our judgment and our hope.