Guenther on a rule of life for the rest of us

“Inevitably, even if we are persistent and faithful, there will come a time when God seems not to be listening or speaking to us. We have entered a desert time. Maybe our icons-our windows to God- have turned into idols. That is, the form of our prayer has become more important than the prayer itself. We can find ourselves attributing almost magical power to our methods of centering prayer, Ignatian meditation, or reading the daily offices of Morning and Evening Prayer. We can become so preoccupies with following our rule of life that we can forget where we are going.”

 Margaret Guenther, At Home in the World, A Rule of Life for the Rest of Us


Will-known author and Episcopal priest Margaret Guenther reminds us that we do not come into the world equipped with a spiritual road map or owner’s manual, so we need to write our own. We cannot download from some celestial source a spiritual MapQuest with precise directions for turning each corner.

Guenther gives us an easily readable book about how to follow a rule of life and still live in the world. Our rule will be different at varying stages of our lives. She offers ways to live in the awareness of the preciousness of each day, living every day as if it were our last, constantly reminding ourselves that time is a gift from God. Each chapter discusses a distinctive aspect of our lives, our families, our solitude, or creativity, our money, our fear of abundance, our friends and enemies, our prayer, and our use of power.  The chapters are followed by questions for reflection, making the book an excellent choice for a small group study.

I first read At Home ten years ago but still practice some of what Guenther taught me.  Whenever a person comes to mind, I call, visit, send a text, or prayer.  I also learned this from my spiritual director in deacon training, Dan McKee.   She discusses how Sabbath is not merely ceasing to work but to be celebrating something that makes us new, re-creates us.  She reminds us that an ongoing association with children, “who live closer to the ground” than we do can be a powerful source for re-creation, a new creation. Guenther consoles me when forgiveness comes too slowly. She describes it as a great block of ice which melts slowly and cannot be hurried. “There is no spiritual equivalent of a microwave.”