… I believe most sincerely that the consolation of Jesus Christ, and the sweetness of his love, with the fire of the Holy Spirit who cleanses all sin, shall be in you and with you, leading you and instructing you how you are to meditate, how you are to pray, and what you are to do, so that after a few years youRichard Rolle
shall certainly have more delight in being yourself and speaking with your beloved and your spouse, Jesus Christ, who is high in Heaven …
The above is written by the English hermit Richard Rolle to an anchorite. The anchorite has asked for a rule but Richard replies rather with a reflection on the spiritual life in general. The text illustrates that, unlike vowed monasticism, there is a certain amount of freedom and choice. Yes, the choice is inspired by the Holy Spirit. Yet the life of an anchorite within the English tradition is less about obedience and more about the freedom to explore the self in the presence of God.
It has been a real insight for me to see that there is a life that is not about rules but about being present with Jesus.