This past week, we discovered a nest in our backyard containing three baby birds. They must have hatched very recently because they are at the stage where they are still quite ugly—no feathers, huge heads, and gaping mouths. Our two boys are absolutely delighted, and they express their excitement by running around the yards shouting, “Baby birds, baby birds!”
When you lean over the nest, the little hatchlings lift their oversized heads and pop their mouths open as if they are spring loaded. Of course, we have nothing to give them, but they can’t really see and don’t know that. It’s pretty funny to watch. If we give them enough space and are patient, we can usually see the mother bird come and drop food into the chicks’ waiting mouths.
St. Romuald’s Brief Rule
Why do I mention all this? Because oddly enough, it reminded me of the rule of life of a great saint and mystic, St. Romuald. Yeah, I’m kind of weird. Bear with me!
To provide some context, St. Romuald was an eleventh-century Italian monk who revived the ancient practice of eremitic life—that is, living as a hermit to pursue God in isolation from the outside world. In his day, Romuald was very influential, helping to form other great contemplative saints like St. Peter Damian (who, by the way, is more relevant than ever). Eventually, St. Romuald founded the Camaldolese order, an off-shoot of Benedictine monasticism that was focused primarily on pursuing contemplation by living as a hermit.
During his life, St. Romuald taught his disciples a brief rule consisting of 7 simple precepts. It is perhaps the shortest rule of life ever codified! Here it is:
1. Sit in the cell as in paradise;
2. cast all memory of the world behind you;
3. cautiously watching your thoughts, as a good fisher watches the fish.
4. In