Nicholas Ferrar and George Herbert shared the conviction that a life of regular corporate prayer and close spiritual fellowship is the calling not just of monks, nuns and priests—religious specialists—but of all Christian people, whatever their station in life and in whatever circumstances they live.
Long before either of these men formed their communities in the 1600's, another visionary, St. Benedict of Nursia, founded a community and wrote a Rule, a letter of instruction, outlining his way of practicing holiness some 1,000 years before.
To say that Benedictine spirituality has had a profound impact on the British Isles is probably an understatement. The "Way of St. Benedict" influenced the early Reformers with its sense of peace, its call to seek balance in one's life, and its emphasis on finding the sacred in the ordinary.
Among Christian religious practices, Benedictine spirituality is perhaps the least spectacular. It is down to earth, not dramatic, with a very modest measure of spiritual guidance, not directed toward 'interesting' experiences of enlightenment or ardent moments of conversion. Thomas Merton wrote, "that concern with doing ordinary things quietly and perfectly for the glory of God is the beauty of the pure Benedictine life." In Benedictine spirituality we do all things for the greater glory of God, by seeking to do all things prayerfully, attentively, and with a quiet mind. Doing the dishes requires just as much care and attention as worship on Sunday. It is this charism, this spirit of attending to ordinary details with extra-ordinary attention and care, which is at the heart of the Little Gidding spiritual journey and the rule of the Community of Christ the Sower.