Recently, on a social media platfrom I referred to having spent a day "intentionally" which prompted someone to ask what I meant. In replying, I noted that in a context of 'sprituality', intentionality is more than just deliberate choice, it infers something about ongoing commitment. There are "intentional communities" such as Iona or Northumbria, whose members pledge themselves to a rule of life and to a level of accountability. Religious orders, such as monks and nuns, are intentional communities; the Order for Baptist Ministers does something similar and, if it had a cell in Scotland it's something I'd definitely consider. To some degree, local churches are, or at least ought to be, intentional communities too - the concept of 'covenant' as agreeing, with God's help, to 'walk together and watch over one another' suggests something very similar to me.
The word 'rule' is one that often has negative connotations for people - rules as laws, imposed from outside, the purpose of which is to impose or control behaviour. But 'rule' in the sense of an intentional community, or more generally as 'being intentional' is better understood as more like a yard-stick, a measure or, even more helpfully, as a pattern or template... The 'rules' observed by monastic communities are about rhythm rather than control. Whilst legalism can render the patterns burdensome, their intent is almost always about balance: time to work, time to rest, time to pray...
After the relentless busyness of 2016, I am choosing to be more 'intentional' for 2017. Not slavishly adhering to a set of practices but rather seeking to establish, or re-establish, patterns that will nourish and sustain me. And as part of that is a chosen committment to accountability - allowing other people to challenge me when (I think 'if' is too optimistic!) I slide back in to being ridiculously busy. Working from home has both advantages and disadvantages, and I am very conscious how easy it would be to slip back into unhealthy working patterns.
So, here are my commitments for 2017:
- To ensure that every working day when I am alone begins with prayer such as 'Pray As You Go' and ends with some time for reflection, meditation and prayer.
- To ensure that, when I am working from home, my day includes a minimum of a one hour brisk walk (for health and well-being benefits, and also simply for a change of scenery)
- That each working day includes at minimum of one hour of 'chill time' such as watching TV, knitting, reading novels, doing jigsaws and playing with the kitties.
- That I will consciously seek out opportunities for 'quiet days' or 'study days' that will nourish my mind and soul.
- That I will not beat myself up when I fall short of these intentions, but, instead will choose to begin again.
- That I will allow those who read my waffle and those who know me in life to hold me to account on these commitments.
I wonder if there are any 'intentions' that you might find helpful to note down, not as 'new year resolutions' but because you recognise their potential in helping you live a more healthy, hopeful and potentially happy, life.
PS I'm also going to try to be a better house-keeper, but don't hold youe breath on that one!!