I’m a man of routine, and almost every morning, at 6:00 AM, my alarm clock radio wakes me. For a few minutes I try to deny reality and keep sleeping, but after a bit I slowly wake up while listening to the radio. “I really should get up,” I think, as I pull the covers tighter over me, “But, just a few more minutes.” Then the moment of action comes. Like jumping into the swimming pool--eventually you jump in or your don’t--and I jump in. I say to myself, “It’s time to get up.” I stretch, throw off the covers, put my feet on the floor, and start the day. There is that moment when the decision is finally made, and we choose to act. It’s like the point when you finally run out in the rain, knowing you’ll get wet, or when you finally choose to take the bad medicine: it may be no fun trying to gulp it down, but in goes the spoonful.
Benedict writes for a moment like this. In the prologue of his rule he says, “Let us get up then, at long last, for the Scriptures rouse us when they say: It is high time for us to arise from sleep (Rom 13:11). Let us open our eyes to the light that comes from God.” It’s into a change moment Benedict offers his rule: when we’re tired of drifting without any direction, when we are tired of thinking, “Surely there must be more than this,” when we see God has flipped on a light switch into the world and we know we need to do something about it.
The moments come when we know change has to come. The alcoholic man pushes the bottle away and says, “Enough.” The abused spouse says, “No more,” and finds the door out. These moments arrive in big and small places where we know we must change. What Benedict sees is the light of God shining into the world, and he knows we must choose to notice it or ignore it, and if we notice it we have to live differently. For those who would choose to wake up, Benedict comes to us saying, “Let me show you a way.”
"In drawing up its regulations, we hope to set down nothing harsh, nothing burdensome." - Rule of St. Benedict