Abandon attempts to achieve security,
They are futile.
This part of the First Rule goes against the grain of all modern thought. Don’t we see on the bookshelves hundreds of books on how we can be successful, retire rich, and live the life or our dreams. We could attend a seminar a week on how to be in control of our lives and our future. How many material things are hawked to us guaranteeing us happiness and riches. Modern medicine, health food stores, and fitness gurus sell their wares promising we will live forever. Yet wisdom has taught me and most of us that life is fragile, security is lightning strike or train wreck away from being destroyed, and we best live in the moment and be not anxious.
I don’t think St. Benedict would tell us to ignore saving for a rainy day, getting in shape, or working hard at our job. But perhaps he is reminding us that we should not let seeking security overtake the goal of living a life of compassion and loving kindness. As my football coach used to yell at me, “get your priorities right!” Futility comes from trying to control events beyond our control. I cannot control, for example, if our country goes to war. I can seek to put my two cent worth in, I can vote for leaders who oppose war, and I can lead by example with loving kindness to our enemies and compassion for their people. But security, a guarantee that war can’t come ever to me or my family, is beyond my control.
Maybe I am reading this part of the Rule wrong. What do you think?