The quote above is the second half of a statement James Finley shared at CAC’s 2021 Conspire conference, which I wrote about earlier this year. The full Finley quote goes like this: “If you’re faithful to your practice, your practice will be faithful to you.” He is referencing a spiritual practice, but any type of practice can impact us in this way, and as we approach the liminal space of a new year, it seems like a good time to reflect more deeply upon this wisdom.
Last week I shared some excerpts from my recent Advent retreat on engaging with a rule of life. As we look ahead to a new year at the end of this week, I want to reinforce the idea of being faithful to some sort of spiritual commitment in the year ahead. As I noted during the retreat, the term “rule” has developed some negative connotations in recent years, but the Latin word is regula, which is where we get our word “regular.” So, a “rule of life” really just means putting together a list of things that we’re committing to do on a regular basis. No guilt or shame is involved. A rule of life is simply, and profoundly, a tool for drawing us closer to God.
This is where Jim Finley’s wisdom comes in. As we make space in our lives for our spiritual practice, we will be influenced by that practice to return to it again and again. As we come to expect that practice to be a part of our lives, God will expect to be part of our lives too.
Here’s another way to think about this. When we walk a certain pathway over and over, our feet naturally return to that pathway whenever we come near. The more we walk that path, the more well-defined it becomes. The more we tread the ground, the easier it becomes to walk it, encouraging us to return again and again. Over time, as Finley says, as we become faithful to walking the path, it becomes faithful to us.
The year 2022 is just a few days away. What paths do you commit to walking in the coming year? What practices will you seek to be faithful to?