Personal Patterns pt 2….Axiom #1

Personal Patterns pt 2….Axiom #1

In a previous post on personal patterns I began to talk about some guiding principles for me. I thought it might be helpful to engage each of these axioms in more detail and then wrap up down the road with my personal rhythm. Here was the first thing I noted.

Axiom #1
The more you progress through stages of faith development (I am thinking Fowler’s stages here, but Scott Peck or Ken Wilber’s Altitudes apply equally well) the more important a changing menu of patterns and practices.

My sense is that as I have grown, and as I have watched other people grow and develop, I realize that what was helpful early in my growth maybe isn’t as important or doesn’t pay the same dividends later in the growth process. That doesn’t mean they don’t have value any longer or won’t have huge value again later. One of the things we learn from stages of faith work is there is a definite movement from certainty and formal answers to an embrace of mystery and an expanding view of God. For me I have recognized there are things I do now that help me sit within the mystery of God’s workings that I hadn’t even have thoughts about 10 years ago.

What this highlights is something the ancients called the regula fidei. Translated to English this is the phrase “rule of faith.” The rule of faith was the current cadre of patterns and practices engaged at any given time to continue the formation of the soul. “Current cadre,” and “given time” are the operative phrases. The idea is that based on the circumstances of life, maturity level and the context, different patterns this month might be better for my formation than other practices.

So for me early in my journey, while I was still in my early 20’s and in seminary, heading down to inner city Chicago with Alan to visit homeless friends became a very seminal experience for me. Having grown up with little need, pain or understanding of the world of homelessness you can see how this became an important and formative pattern for me. Today my sensitivity to those around me is altered because of that. My nearly weekly conversations with one particular homeless guy in my community probably wouldn’t be happening if it wasn’t for those early experiences that were part of a regula fidei for about a year.

The first step in understanding how this works for you is the recognition that any and all patterns and practices you engage should help you develop. Anything you are engaging that isn’t helping that endgame is simply wasted time. So step one, cut yourself free from guilt that says you must do “X” every day. If you are like the average person there is an awful lot of guilt motivating spiritual patterns and practices which almost every time will void it of any transforming power.

Second, start thinking out side the box for what might be a molding and shaping pattern. Visiting homeless people isn’t listed in Matthew 6 or Galatians 5 but it was a spiritual discipline. I have a close friend who lives a in a warm climate (read Bahamas) and one year committed to watching the sunset every night for a year and talking to God during that time. He said it was one of the most healing and important things he has ever done. It was so transformative to him he just spoke about it at a national conference. In short keep a growing list of patterns that you can draw on and use whenever you need them.

Third, craft a rhythm that will work for you right now in this season and station of life. Different life stages and different growth seasons require different patterns and different practices. I used to get up very early for study and meditation because it was the best time for me in the office of a large church and staff to get that quiet stuff done. I now do sitting meditation mid morning, except when I am on the road then I do it every evening. It is all above daily rhythm and not being legalistic about it all.

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2 Responses to “Personal Patterns pt 2….Axiom #1”

  1. 1st, Patterns and practices that help me to develop are so important. Then, craft a rhythm that will work for you right now in this season and station of life. Different life stages and different growth seasons require different patterns and different practices. Yes! I’m definitely in one of those now.
    Also “Having grown up with little need, pain or understanding of the world of homelessness you can see how this became an important and formative pattern for me. Today my sensitivity to those around me is altered because of that.”
    Rob Bell may say that this makes you sexy[Sex God(40)]

  2. Merry Christmas Ron!

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