It’s a story for another day , why I have been studying Benedict Monks. But it’s a beautiful life that I try to model in my own daily routine and home. The Monks have a full schedule but are never busy.
Their day is marked with a “bell” that divides the days activities.
Their days consist of 3 things Prayer, Work and Study. As I was searching for “what to do with myself ? What is God call for me day to day… “I began to consider this as well.
Each task in the monastery is as important as the next. So cleaning kitchen utensils is as important as cleaning the Eucharistic vessels. All things are done with the utmost attention and concentration.
I once compared this to the mundane duties as a mother, brushing little teeth, and washing little hands.
I used to rush through these duties so we could move on to the important things.
Like ” Aaaaahhhhh everyone hurry , hurry …. I don’t care if you forgot socks, or your shirts on backwards. Get in the car!”
But that attitude is terrible. Those small mundane tasks are just as important or arguably MORE important than the thing I want us to be doing.
Similarly, I would rush through housework so we can move on with life…. that is my life. I have a house to tend to. And it needs attention.
I also wanted to hurry and put the kids to bed, bathe myself and begin my evening with Brandon. But that is part of my night. Doing the “work” part rushed and with a fraction of my brain goes hand in hand with mistakes and sloppy work.
In the monastery life, their is a healthy rhythm of prayer, work and study.
All things are attended to properly and with the proper care.
Within this rhythm is the Art of beginning , and the art of quitting.
How interesting! The art of beginning?!? What does that even mean? When the bell rings (alarm on my phone) , for the next part of the day; I need to move onto the next thing.
Your day should involve a reasonable amount of exertion and relaxation.
The Benedict Rule emphasizes many times to decreasing the distance between the bell and your response. Your internal and external response should be as close to the bell as possible.
Every time I read this or think about this I think about my alarm clock going off and pressing snooze. At one part of my life , when my alarm clock went off I would physically get up without even thinking and the day was so much better.
I was practicing the art of beginning.
Now I have an alarm that goes off at 7:30. And the label is “Get up immediately, and start Morning routine.”
So if I get up at 6:45 I have 45mins for coffee and prayer. If I wake up at 7:15, then I only get 15 mins to pray. Either way , my morning routine is just as important as prayer, or school, or wherever we are going. My body and mind needs to respond quickly to the “bell” and I need to begin the new activity.
Try to notice in your daily life how much distance is there between “bells” and your response.
Bells maybe :
-kids off the bus
-husband home from work
How many times are we quickly finishing things up , or checking one more email when our attention should be on someone or something else. Being present, and not just externally but redirecting our mind from the last task to the present one. The Art of beginning…. small steps toward a beautiful habit.
This is one of the Benedict books that some of these reflections are from: