“We are all seeking wholeness,” the amazing Esther de Waal writes in Living with Contradiction: An Introduction to Benedictine Spirituality, a book I’ve owned for 6 months and am finally picking up to read. She says that in The Rule of St. Benedict, we can find a handbook of healing: “St. Dunstan’s first biographer, almost a thousand years ago, described the saint as a man, ‘following the health-giving Rule of St. Benedict” (12). I’m finding myself impressed by her thought that the Rule I set out to follow in my daily life more than a year ago, the Rule that brought discipline to my prayer life last spring and summer, and that I all but ignored for the past six months of my pregnancy (Why is laziness so easy to blame on morning sickness?), is the same Rule that brought health into the life of St. Dunstan.
I long for health in my life. I mean that in a holistic sense: emotional, physical, spiritual. I don’t want to be stressed. I don’t want to be short tempered with my husband and son. I don’t want to be spiritually dry. I don’t want to have an aching pregnant body. I’m not much of a New Year’s resolution setter. I tend to avoid failure. But as I kissed my main squeeze and sang karaoke along with friends to Heart’s “Alone" (how good is that freaking song?) at midnight ten days ago, I found myself instinctively aware of my need for discipline this year. Adding another child to my life in two months is going to shake my world up. If I’m already anxious and stressed, if I’m not healthy in my prayer life, how will I survive those first two months of T-Rexy’s life? How will I survive motherhood in general?
The wholeness de Waal describes in her book is not one of easy answers. There are no steps in the Rule of St. Benedict. Instead, there is commitment. There is faithful prayer, community, daily persistence. De Waal says: “…the promise is that we shall learn to live with contradiction, holding together the tensions in such a way that will let them become creative and life-enhancing for us” (12).
As I move through her book, I’m sure I’ll have more insight to offer you. But for now, my mind is hovering over the apparent contradictions in my life: Stay at Home Mom with an at-home admin job and an at-home attempted writing career. Mother of a two year old who can hardly find the time to sit, much less pray in quiet, attempting to live a contemplative life. Worrying over my pregnant body weight while hoping to teach my son to live outside of a surface-driven, image conscious world. Striving to live without loving money while anxiously awaiting about future baby bills. Contradictions.
De Waal says The Rule of St. Benedict can teach us to hold these tensions in such a way that they become “creative and life-enhancing.” So here’s my question for you. What are a few of your life contradictions? And how are they making you more beautifully healthy?