This Week in Church: Vines and Branches, Spirituality, and Creating a Rule of Life

Welcome to the series wherein I share my takeaways from church. The things that, I think, are beneficial to all of us to know or think about, whether or not we believe in any church-related things.

I think that church can teach things that are beneficial to everyone, whether or not we believe in church-related things.

This week in church, we talked about vines and branches.

You may have heard the thing Jesus said: "I am the vine and you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit."

The interesting part of this is that the branches are really just there to receive and be dependent on the vine. They don't do a whole lot of striving on their own but draw their strength from the vine. They are also the part where all the beautiful fruit and flowers live. So according to this, our job is to stay connected to the source of our lives so that we can receive from it, and let that love help us grow into something beautiful.

That sounds nice, but my next question is how the heck do we actually do that. (Oh! And that's coming!)

This week in church, we talked about spirituality.

It's where we find rest. It's our deep longings. It's how we fight and make up. So basically, our spirituality is in everything, and I gather it's more in the how than the what.

This reminds me of my yoga teacher training when we talked about how what makes yoga special isn't the poses, but the mental presence you bring to them, and how you can bring that mindset to any part of your life, making walking to the bus or doing dishes into a yoga practice.

Also, this quote:

"Ask me what I am living for and what I think is keeping me from living fully for that."
-Thomas Merton

This week in church we talked about a Rule of Life.

This is supposed to be the "how we do it" part. If the idea is that we are a vine, and if our vine is left to just grow on the ground, it's going to get all curled in on itself and tangled and stuck. (This sounds like a familiar posture to my brain when left to its own devices.) A Rule of Life is like a trellis to help build structure and order into our growth, keeping us connected to our vine while growing up and out.

In non-metaphorical terms, it's a structure or rhythm of practices that (in this case) allow us to pay attention to God in everything that we do. Or if the God part isn't your thing, then I would say whatever you think the source of your life is.

It's a morning and nighttime routine of prayer and meditation, daily phone reminders, and whatever the heck else you might do to be intentional and structured about noticing your vine.

This week in church we talked about pruning.

Sometimes branches need to be pruned. Not in the, "you have not lived up to my standard and must be thrown in the trash" way, but in the way where we fill our lives with too many things and need to cut back. Even if some of them are very good things.

So your Rule of Life should include opportunities to prune. One guy quits something every single Thursday as a part of his Rule of Life. Thursday is quitting day. That's kind of neat. (Maybe this Thursday I'll quit trying to be what I think other people want me to be.)

This is pretty much the thing I am the worst at, and probably always will be, but a good vine needs to prune every once in a while!


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