Screen Shot 2017-11-09 at 10.35.37 PM.png

Discipleship as a Three-Legged Stool, Week 11
Andrea Lingle

How many inches are there in a mile?

Well, there are twelve inches in a foot and five thousand two hundred and eighty feet in a mile, so…

*gets out calculator*

5,280 ft/mile x 12 in/ft = 63,360 in/mile

How many centimeters in a kilometer?

Well, there are one hundred centimeters in a meter and one thousand meters in a kilometer, so…

1,000 m/km x 100 cm/m = 100,000 cm/km

Some rules make things easier.

For the last several weeks, we have been using the metaphor of a three-legged stool to discuss discipleship. The image implies that there are some things that are fundamental to living fully into a spiritual life. They are the things which support us. Community, Loving God and Neighbor, and the Eucharistic Life are the legs of our stool. We are formed by our community, we are called to love, and we are created to be kenotic.

Today my children and I went to the playground. It was midmorning, which is high time for playgrounds in the summer. There was a large group of children already there when we arrived. I am a writer. I like quiet. These children were kinetic. Loud. Exuberant. There were four kids clustered around the tire swing. My middle children dearly love the tire swing, but I have four kids and am no longer one of the parents that can shepherd her kids around the playground. I told Ollie and Annabel to go stand near the tire swing and wait, and I went to the toddler area to catch my youngest as she tried various ways to fall off the equipment.

After one near face plant, which involved my one year old catching her shoe on the slide and whipping forward face-first, I noticed that the cloud of children on the tire swing now included my kids. There was one particular girl spinning load after load of children. She was probably twelve. She organized the kids into groups and pushed and pushed and pushed. She was gentle and patient. She never complained about being hot or tired.

Meanwhile, we found the sand box. Sand is fun! It can go in your hair. You can make little piles. Your fingers make dried river beds and canyons and labyrinths. You can drop the sand in the mulch and it disappears!

And still she pushed. She would stop a load of children and rearrange, making room for the bystanders, and ask how high she should push them. She was taking great pride in her work. Her work of pushing children. Her work of bringing order and joy. Her act of kenosis.

Community. Love. Kenosis.

The top of the stool, the piece that ties it all together, is the monastic life. Not moving into a stone building, mowing a circle on top of your head, and making good beer (although those are all fantastic), the top of the stool is the spirit of monasticism: intention.

Living with intention is what holds us together.

And that is why a Rule of Life is important. A Rule of Life is a covenant made in community that names how the community wants to live. It keeps the legs of the stool in proportion. It gives us edges. It makes life simpler. It sets our intention.

Missional Wisdom Foundation modeled its Rule of Life on the questions every United Methodist is asked when they join the church.

Will you uphold the church with your Prayers, your Presence, your Gifts, your Service, and your Witness?

If you have ever joined a United Methodist Church, you have answered that question with, “I will.” But, what? I will what? Monastics, like St. Benedict, recognized the value of simplifying the what. It is in the place of intentionally ordered practice that we, paradoxically, find freedom. A good rule of life such as the Rule of St. Benedict or the one used by the various Missional Wisdom communities is a supportive structure that helps us learn the essential practices together with their theological foundations.**

We are what we intend to be.

Invitation to Missional Mindfulness:
Take a moment to read through the Missional Wisdom Foundation’s Rule of Life. Does this rule resonate with you? Within your community is there space to develop a Rule of Life? Would you be willing to write down your intentions and share them with your community?