02 August 2008

Horarium Question

[[Hi Sister Laurel! Recently you put up the horarium (schedule) of your days on retreat, but I was wondering what your horarium for your days is usually like. It is not included in the copy of the Rule of Life you put up last year. Would you mind sharing that? Also, if someone wants to create a schedule for themselves, what should they pay attention to? Thank you!]]

I think if someone is trying to work out a schedule for themselves they have to strive to embody balance and order. As you will see, my own schedule (horarium) is oriented around liturgical prayer, lectio divina, study/writing, and quiet prayer (which actually accompanies all the other activities either before or after them). Those are the main elements, the things without which I don't function well and/or to which I am publicly committed to be faithful; this includes related practices or activities which fit around and support them.They are meant to alternate work, prayer, study, lectio, and I try to do this even when I cannot keep to a clock schedule. I also was given some great advice by the hermit monk who first read my Rule for suggestions. He said, "I hope you are careful to build in enough time for rest and recreation." Because of that, I take those things more seriously than I have at other times in my life, and everything is better because of it. I would certainly suggest people seeking to establish their own horaria do something similar.

In any case, here is the general weekday horarium for Stillsong Hermitage.

4:00 rising
4:15 Vigils.
4:30-5:30 quiet (contemplative) prayer
5:30 Lauds
6:00- 8:00 writing
7:00 breakfast (may skip on Fridays. may have after Mass)
8:30 Mass

9:15 Small chores around hermitage (during school year I first have coffee once a week on Fridays with parishioners at a small cafe run by school parents to benefit the parish "garden of learning"; during the Summer we go to coffee elsewhere.)

9:30 or 10:00 Lectio Divina: (Scripture)

12:30 Lunch (Dinner)
1:00 Rest, walk or nap
3:30 or 4:00 Writing, etc (work, theological study, occasional client). Afternoons are variable and may be taken up with whatever needs doing. This includes the period from 1:00 to 5:00pm.

5:00pm quiet prayer/meditation
6:00 Vespers (sung)
6:30 Supper and small chores
7:00 work (house chores, study, occasional clients --- depends on day. Wednesdays, orchestral rehearsal)

7:30- 8:30 Journaling (most days except Wednesdays and evenings with clients)
8:30 compline (sung)
9:00 pm bed --- earlier if no nap in afternoon (later on Wednesdays: @11:00pm)

Saturdays: as on weekdays until breakfast. Then, large chores, shopping, errands away from hermitage, etc.
5:00pm vigil Mass
6:30 supper
7:30 journaling, quiet prayer
9:00 compline
9:15 bed

Sundays: as on weekdays until breakfast. (May begin an hour later)
9:30am Mass at parish (time with friends afterward)
12:00 or 12:30 pm Lunch
2:00pm, quartets or quintets
4:15 quiet prayer (45 min-1 hr)
5:15 Vespers
6:00 supper and chores
8:00 journaling or lectio divina
9:30 Compline and bed

I tend to pick up email, check blog, etc several times a day, whenever there are a few extra minutes. On days when there are major errands to run I get less studying done, and a shorter time of lectio, but otherwise things go pretty much according to this schedule. During the Fall, Winter and early Spring, Wednesday evenings are set aside for orchestra rehearsals. Saturdays are the day for large errands, evening (vigil) Mass, etc. Sundays I often have quartets in the afternoon, and the whole day is a bit more relaxed; this is also the day I take Communion to neighbors unless they are seriously ill, in which case I will do that at any time, day or night. I may have lunch or dinner with friends (e.g., quartet members and their families), or just catch up on reading, etc, I have not had time for during the week.

Because I am active in my parish, and certainly more active than I was even a year ago (though this remains a limited thing), I do have to accommodate that in some way. Until recently I was simply trying to maintain regularity and balance in my daily horarium, but after this year's retreat it became clear that that is insufficient for me personally. Thus, besides the general daily horarium, each month I take a full week of strict anachoresis besides the more usual silence and solitude. My participation in any active ministry is the spillover of a contemplative life, not just one that includes contemplative prayer, so I am careful to be sure this remains true. What is generally the case is that every hermit determines how best to balance the solitary and the evangelical aspects of her vocation. Most do develop a rhythm like this, just as lay people and active religious may take a desert day every week or month. Sometimes a hermit may be accessible for several months and then retreat more completely for several. In any case, I do suggest that people trying to develop their own horaria experiment with desert days added either weekly or monthly. Hermits should experiment with extended periods of solitude to balance any periods where they are called on to minister in more active ways.

Hope this helps.

(The second picture is one of the clocks I have here in the hermitage. The other is a "zen clock" which allows me to set a timer for prayer or have the "alarm" (a single E flat bell) sound once an hour. (Yes, I respond to and order my life in some ways around bells, just as monastics have done for centuries!) I liked the contrast between the picture of the sundial and this particularly contemporary clock. Eremitical life has persisted in Christianity for almost two millennia. We live the tradition in a contemporary world.)