Sunday, December 28, 2008

Revise Our Rule, Etc.?

Dear Spiritual Friends, we are coming up on the end of the first full year of our experiment in being a “non-geographical Christian contemplative community.” Our website’s “Join Us” page says, “An annual re-commitment is then due during January 1-31 of each year for as long as you feel led to journey with us.” So now is meant to be a time of community reconsideration, etc., which fits with the ending of the calendar year, New Year’s resolutions, etc. It seems to me that a number of us have found some genuine sense of spiritual meaning and spiritual support in our community experiment and inter-connecting. Thus, in my view, we should continue our experiment. That’s certainly my “vote.” But it also seems to me that we need to consider revising our rule to fit who we really are and what we are really willing and able to do in regard to this community. Integrity matters, I think. Our website and our blog should represent who we really are and what we really do. Actually I am thinking that the terms “the rule of our community” and “our rule” may not fit where we really are in our development, in our experiment. Rather than sharing a “rule,” i.e., “core practices,” I am thinking that overall we share certain “core values,” such as contemplative reflection, humility, presence, and so on. I think our actual regular practices may vary. So instead of a link on our blog and web site saying “Rule of Our Community” we might have that link say “Core Values of Our Community.” Well, reflect on this anyway. You can let me know your thoughts by commenting on this post or by using the “Contact” tab on our community’s web site to send an email. I am very grateful for our community and what God has done in it over this first full year! May you and yours have a deeply blessed New Year!
- RC


Paul Corrigan said...

Thank you for bringing this up. I am looking forward to renewing my commitment to this community. And, before we renew, I do think that we should revise the rule, however, my initial impulse is to not necessarily revise it in the way that you are suggesting. I've two sets of thoughts on this.

(1) I like that we have a set of core practices that define us as a community. And though some of us are not yet at the point of, say, practicing silent prayer "regularly" (what is regular, four times a week?), I think that most of us want to get to that place. Maybe I'm speaking too broadly. I, at least, want to get to that place, intend to, am growing in the direction of "regular" practice. I would like to revise the rule to include language of growth. Maybe what defines us is not that we practice regularly, but that we are growing towards regularity.

(2) If, however, the other members of the community do not feel as I do, then perhaps we should revise it like you are saying. There is no judgment here. I want to be part of this community for its members whether or not the community will continue to be organized around the current three practices.

I hope that each of our members will come to voice on this issue. In the meanwhile, I think that I will draft a proposed revision of our rule and put it on the wiki so that everyone can have input if they want to.


Mark Wills said...

Rickey and Paul, thank you for your insights. I see value in both of your comments. I will be interested to see your draft Paul. Thanks again!


John Orzechowski said...

I am delighted to re-commit to the experiment of this community. I am thankful for you all.

I personally like Rickey's idea of changing our language to "core values" or something similar. I think that we are all in different places in our spiritual journey. We may share these values you mentioned and yet express those in different ways: one might enjoy meditative walks; another might pray with a rosary; someone else might do centering or the Jesus prayer. I am still experimenting with my own contemplative practice, and I think the language of "values" gives a lot of room for such experimentation while still providing a way to define ourselves as a group.

Anonymous said...

Dear friends, while I am not a member of your community, I have watched and commented--as one whom has enjoyed the guidance of Rickey and Anna as mentors. Anyway, I would like you all to consider something in the discussion of language and changing from "Rule" to "Core values". First, when we talk of a "Rule" in religious life, it is important to note that the term comes from the Greek word "trellis". This is of course to say that a rule is some structure upon which we grow.
The other part of this is that if we look to early rules and intentional communities, the rule that bound them was not so rigid--this later informed St. Benedict's Rule and is perhaps the basis for Conversatio Morem. So, while the rule offers stability, it also allows us to be in conversation with life to grow in the ways we need to grow.
Anyway, I appreciate the use of "Rule" in your group identity--it makes me feel that the true spirit of cenobitic monasticism still exist.

Susan Price said...

I certainly would like to renew my commitment to this community. You all have been encouraging, and supportive.

I think the languages of growth, and of core values would be helpful.

Daniel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I would like to say one last word about the discussion of "core values" v. "rule." I wonder how (if this community is only understood as virtual)this is any different from any other blog--or even a long distance devotional group? Community is not just what you bring--it is also about what coming into it makes you.
Remember how Dr. cotton always wants students to be in class because the "whole" would be lacking is even one is missing. So, my point is this: 1)how is this group any different from a regular blog? 2)if not a rule for commonality, how does it enrich our lives "together" and what does community look like in those circumstances?
What makes you the same in community, but different in the blogosphere?
This isn't just a question of language, but also of intention.

Paul Corrigan said...

Thanks to those who have given input. I have said that I will draft a new version of the "community rule," but I think that I will wait to do this until more of us have "voted." How we answer the question of whether to keep "core practices" or to move to language of "core values" (though it seems, at a very minimum, we would need to keep this blog as a practice) will be central in determining what that draft would look like. In other words, I don't know in which direction to draft it yet.

Sarah said...

I also am looking forward to renewing my commitment to this community. Having spent so much of my growing-up searching for the very reality I've now found, I would be loathe to let it go at this point.

I would like to mention, though, that I find value in the language of a rule rather than in common values. It seems to me that these things that we "do" together, even though we're geographically separated, are what knit and us together into community. A person may change what values he or she holds to, but a practice changes the person who faithfully adheres to it through the rhythms of daily life.

Knowing that others are practicing along with me has been instrumental in my growth in our community practices, which I think is why we began this community--to grow together.

(There RC, you can finally give me that "A" in your class for disagreeing with you. =))

RC said...

Thank you, Sarah! Yes, you will definitely get an A for disagreeing. We are grateful for you and your investment in this community!

Matt Addis said...

Hey everyone. Sorry for my delay in commenting. I really like what Sarah said and I affirm the rule that we have in place. I am looking forward to committing to another year of our community. The encouragement that I feel from this group has been unmet elsewhere. Thank you all.


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