“Happy are they who delight in the law of the LORD, they meditate on his law day and night.” The psalmist tells us that those who meditate on the law day and night are like trees planted by streams of water, bearing fruit, with leaves that do not wither – and that everything they do shall prosper. The image is a rich image – a tree planted near abundant water, with perfect produce and growth. All we must do is meditate on the law constantly and this water and fruit will be ours – and everything we touch will turn to gold.
It sounds like a wonderful set of promises, and yet the promise hangs on one major task: to meditate on the law night and day. Now I don’t know about you, but the only time I had to meditate on the law night and day was when I had an Old Testament final in seminary. Most of us have full, full lives, and meditating on scripture is something we squeeze in – if we are lucky. We would love to be like those trees planted by water, and we would certainly love for everything we do to prosper. But how can we access that kind of blessed abundance in the midst of our everyday lives?
Well, Benedict of Nursia, who we celebrate today, knew a little something about lives of meditation. Benedict is generally known as the father of Western monasticism. Born in 480, Benedict was disgusted by the life in Rome, which was overrun by barbarians. His disapproval of the manners and morals in Rome led him to a vocation of monastic seclusion. Others joined Benedict and he eventually developed a rule that has been used by religious around the world. His rule structured the day with four hours of liturgical prayers, five hours of spiritual reading, six hours of work, one hour of eating, and eight hours of sleep. His rule is intense and probably foreign to most of us, but his rule was also trying to create a life much like that tree in our psalm today.
The good news to me about Benedict’s Rule is that even Benedict does not meditate night and day – at least he gave his followers eight hours to sleep! But both the psalmist and Benedict know that scripture gives us life. Our invitation today is to consider how often we create space for God’s word in our lives. The promise for us is an abundant, prosperous life of fulfillment with our LORD. We are unlikely to take on Benedict’s Rule, but we can create a rule that fits our lives and invites that stream of water closer. Amen.