I am struck time and time again by the fact that God gives us what we need when we need it. There is a synchronicity sometimes in the way we experience the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Recently, while at the Celebrate Conference I bought a book called ‘The Rule of Saint Benedict for family life today ‘ by Don Massimo Lapponi OSB. A week later, while in the library, waiting for two girls to choose a DVD, I stumbled on “Toxic Childhood” by Sue Palmer. Reading these books, so close together, I was struck by how the things Palmer said children needed over-lapped with Don Massimo’s suggestion for using the Benedictine Rule in homes.

I was excited by this. I knew the advantages of the Rule from my own experience. On one retreat at the monastery, I followed the pattern laid out in the retreatants handbook. If the members of the community were working, I would do something physical, if they were resting, so was I. What I discovered is in this timetable there is never too much of anything. I found myself getting hungry just before the next meal, I found physical activity followed by rest made me feel full of energy. More importantly I found a freedom to respond to God in a way that I hadn’t on some of my other retreats. There is something about the Benedictine Rule that gives us what we need and a structure for community life, which frees us to discover God. What impact would that have on our family life if we could do it at home? Reading Toxic Childhood and Lapponi’s book I think I am discovering that the Rule may well provide a structure that frees children to develop normally, giving advice on elements such as food, rest and work.

So we are going to give the Rule a go and try de-toxifying elements of our family life. I will let you know how it goes! In the meantime, can I recommend Sue Palmer’s website for the principles of what children need.