Chapter Twenty Two
Let the community sleep singly, each in a separate bed. Let them receive the bedding befitting their mode of life, according to the direction of their abbot or abbess. If it can be done, let all sleep in one apartment; but if the number does not allow it, let them sleep in tens or twenties with the seniors who have charge of them. Let a light be kept burning constantly in the cell till morning.
Let them sleep clothed and girded with cinctures or cords, that they may be always ready; but let them not have knives at their sides while they sleep, lest perchance the sleeping be wounded in their dreams; and the sign having been given, rising without delay, let them hasten to outstrip each other to the Work of God, yet with all gravity and decorum. Let the younger members not have their beds beside each other, but intermingled with the older ones; and rising to the Work of God, let them gently encourage one another on account of the excuses of the drowsy.
Long ago Benedictines saw fit to re-imagine this chapter and adopt cells for sleeping quarters in monasteries rather than the dormitory Benedict describes here. Re-imagining the Rule is far from unprecedented. The process of adaptation must be careful, however, to preserve the spirit behind the specific instructions when the specifics are set aside.
In the case of the Canon Communities of St. Benedict, Benedictine life is re-imagined once again. Here the very notion of living in a monastery is set aside, but what is preserved is the mutual support and encouragement along the path of Benedictine spiritual formation, which, I believe, is the spirit behind this chapter.
Ours is to be a community in which gentle encouragement is the posture the members assume with each other. We each have a "bed" out of which we struggle to rise, and we each have a kind nudge to apply to a brother or sister.