Recently I have made a commitment to begin my days reading something spiritual. My first selection is by Joan Chittister, OSB, a profoundly wise little book, Wisdom Distilled from the Daily: Living the Rule of St. Benedict Today. It amazes me how this book, published in 1991, before the world wide web, still speaks of the same challenges we now face: how to live a holy life in a world that is ever closer and more connected, with technology that dominates our time and consumerism that invades our consciousness. "In a world in which the planet has become the neighborhood and our personal lives are made up of unending streams of people," she writes, "the Rule of Benedict with its accent on the spiritual qualities of life lived in common may never have been more relevant. I have begun to see under the covers of this age-old monastic rule a semblance of sanity to the insanity of the world around me." (p. 11-12) What would she have made of the "unending streams of people" I can speak to and they to me via the timeline of my Facebook page? Or a world in which I can download an entire library to my Kindle in less than an hour? Or a BOGO culture in which I get two blouses when I only really needed one, just because the second one was free?
Having it all vs. having everything. Having it all doesn't make me happier, it just creates more work, more things to dust, more things to wade through. And it leads to a world where a few have too much and too many have too little. Having everything is simply having that--and only that--which is necessary to live a life in balance, where work and leisure, solitude and companionship, the mundane and the sacred exist in equal measure. That kind of monasticism does not require I renounce my family or give away all my possessions or move into a convent. It simply means that I must focus on wanting what I have rather than trying to have whatever I want.