Ora, labora, et gaude (pray, work, and rejoice)

Peace and Grace to you, brother and sister in faith.

You are invited to explore and experience communal life: sharing in a rhythm of spiritual practice, accountability, support, and community while also cultivating core monastic principles. The monastic goal is to live God’s kingdom in the here and now – together, intentionally, and in joy.

Below, you will find a more full explanation of what this life means and how you can take your first steps into living an ancient rhythm in a postmodern way. 

The goal of a monastic community is to provide a path by which a person who already lives a spiritual life can find order, help, support, and intention for their lives. We do not strive to offer “things to do” or “practices to add” on to an already full life. Rather, a rule's purpose is to nurture a rhythm of wholeness, offer challenges that foster spiritual maturation, and invite people into community. 

Peace and Blessings,

Katie M Ladd


Practices and Disciplines

  • Prayer, including reading daily scripture
  • Weekly Worship
  • Sabbath

Principles and Values

  • Generosity
  • Hospitality
  • Simplicity
  • Justice
  • Compassion
  • Embodiment
  • Beauty
  • Neighborliness
  • Joy

Community Formation & Maintenance

  • Weekly email check in 
  • Community lunch - 3rd Friday of each month


Prayer:  At least twice a day, enter into a time of prayer and reflection in whatever form or way is meaningful for you. Traditional forms of prayer include lectio divina, examen, praying the Psalms, extemporaneous prayer, silent meditation, and praying the hours.

Prayer for one another daily. At least once a day, pray for each member of our community by name or through intention. Also, hold the community as a whole and its future in prayer. We are fledglings together. We all need prayer.

While how, when, and how often you pray is not defined by the rule, those who wish to pray the hours are encouraged to do so four times a day. Please let me know if you would like to try this method. In praying the hours, one joins others in time and space, using an ancient pattern of prayer. There is an addendum to this letter that details more about the hours.

Daily Scripture: God meets us in Holy Word. Whether this is part of your regular prayer practice or another set aside time, scripture is foundational in forming our spirits and our community. You may choose Lectio Divina as one of your prayer practices, combining the two. Or, you may use a breviary which utilizes scripture in its liturgy. If you do not use a prayer tool that includes scripture, please include scripture in your daily life. It is the holy narrative that holds us.

Weekly Worship: Queen Anne United Methodist Church is currently the anchor church for this community. However, you may worship at whatever local faith community you call your own.

Weekly Sabbath: Just as regular or fixed hour prayer creates a daily rhythm of mindfulness toward and communion with God, Sabbath creates a weekly rhythm of mindfulness and communion toward and with God. Sabbath also calls us to be mindful of and in communion with neighbor and creation.

We have resources that will help you set this day aside and keep it holy (as was commanded to us). In short, Sabbath is a day to challenge the slavery of Empire by opting out of the production/consumption society that surrounds us; to celebrate that God delivered us from a life of slavery into a life of communion and joy; to remember the God of creation; to enjoy the joy of communion; to worship in love; to rest in God’s presence; and to delight in God’s world.

We will not be able to all experience Sabbath on the same day, but we will uphold one another in prayer as we all remember that God’s realm is not defined by unceasing labor but by profound abundance for all. For those in the community who hold jobs or live in circumstances where a full day Sabbath is not allowed (by not allowed, we mean really not allowed – working a shift job where hours are set by another, etc), I will work with you to establish an alternate rhythm.

Finding a way to keep a weekly Sabbath may be one of the most difficult aspects of monastic life. Let’s work together on why this is the case for you and find creative and joyful approaches to this most holy commandment.


Generosity: Generosity is a value that can be embodied everywhere. A generous spirit is one that looks for ways to extend forgiveness without being asked, to ask for forgiveness when harm has been made, to expect the best and not the worst from the person in front, to reserve judgment, to see the world with hope, to listen deeply and to share honestly, to be compassionate rather than correct.

Hospitality: For those living in community, it is imperative that the household be known as a place of hospitality. How that is embodied is up to those living in the house. It can be as simple as inviting neighbors to picnics or over for games. It could be as radical as setting aside one room for a refugee or immigrant. It is up to you in conversation with the full community.

For those not living in community, how will you regularly practice hospitality in your homes and lives? This is not a “thing to do,” but an attitude or posture in the world. In our society, much is made about competition and individualism, but the Christian value of hospitality calls us to be different in the world.

Justice: “Justice is what love looks like in public,” Cornel West. A community committed to Jesus Christ means that justice must be part of the working of the residential community and embedded in the hearts and lives of those oblating (following the rule but not living in community). Justice requires us to examine how we participate in production and consumption practices; how we interact with others; how we respond to obvious instances or systems of injustice; and how we make choices in everyday living situations. There may be times that as a whole community we take stands based upon a shared Christian conscience. There may be other times that we support one another’s individual decisions in witnessing for justice. And, there may yet be other times when one person’s call to act for justice may stretch the rest of the community. During these times, we must find considerate ways to dialogue and pray with one another.

Compassion: Justice without compassion is a harsh rule for life. Compassion and generosity temper the hot spirit. Compassion may require action, but like the other values, it is a posture for living in the world. Compassion is a value we strive for more than correctness.

Embodiment: We are embodied beings. Much of spiritual life focuses on the ethereal, but at the center of Christianity is the realization that we live embodied existences, and we must be concerned with bodies – our bodies, the sacredness of others’ bodies, the embodied world. To embrace this value, it is important for us to consider how and what we eat, how and when we exercise, how we see and value the rest of God’s creation. All of the earth is God’s good creation. Embodiment calls us to revere all of creation and, like God, to profess it “good.”

Beauty: It may be easy to focus on the brokenness and the ugliness in the world. However, it is our holy obligation to be a community of healing and beauty in the world. This value encourages each of us to make the world a more beautiful place, and it challenges our whole community to be mindful and intentional about noticing the beauty and wonder of God’s handiwork and to create beauty in our neighborhoods and through our worship.

Neighborliness: For those living in residential community, you are called to be good neighbors to your local community – those people living in the vicinity of your house. For those living near Queen Anne UMC, your call will include neighborliness toward the anchor church as well. Neighborliness does not stop with the neighborhood, however. Jesus taught that even our enemies are our neighbors; everyone is our neighbor. We must seek an attitude of interrelationship and approachability in our residential communities.

Joy: A spiritual life - a Christ-like life - is a joyful life. Henri Nouwen once said, "Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.” Joy is intrinsic to life in Christ, yet it takes intention to choose joy.


Community Meal: Just as Jesus located much of his life and ministry around the table, so have his followers. Residential communities meet weekly to share a meal. All are invited to our monthly lunch, which is geared specifically for the non-residential community. At the meal, we share our lives and remember God’s abundance.

Weekly check in: This serves as an opportunity to express how the rule is going, to discover if others in the community need prayer, to ask for prayer, and to make connection. This can be done in person, on the phone, or (less optimally) through email.

Praying the Hours:

If you choose to pray the hours, you are encouraged to pray them four times a day. This practice can be referred to as the Divine Office, the Liturgy of the Hours, or Fixed Hour Prayer. Traditionally, there are eight “offices” that can be prayed.

  • Matins (also called Vigils or Nocturnes), which are prayed near midnight
  • Lauds (dawn prayer, 3 am)
  • Prime (or early morning prayer or “first prayer,” 6 am-8 am)
  • Terce (or mid-morning prayer or “third hour,” 9 am-11 am)
  • Sext (or midday prayer or “sixth hour,” noon-2 pm)
  • None (or mid-afternoon or “ninth hour,” 3 pm-5 pm)
  • Vespers (or evening prayer or “at the lighting of the lamps,” 6 pm or between 5-8 pm)
  • Compline (or night prayer, 9 pm or right before sleep/going to bed)
  • At least twice per day, prayer should include praying the Psalms, which are the ancient songs and prayers of the One whom we follow. While we encourage the use of a breviary, you may also pray in your own manner.

Breviaries, or books that can help you pray, include “The Divine Hours” by Phyllis Tickle; The Book of Common Prayer for Ordinary Radicals by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, et al; Benedictine Daily Prayer: A Short Breviary, and many more. 

Instructions on praying the hours: For a history and introduction to praying the hours, please visit one of these online explanations by Phyllis Tickle; they are short and very helpful: www.phyllistickle.comwww.annarborvineyard.org/resources/537www.explorefaith.org/prayer/prayer/fixed/index.phpwww.commonprayer.net.

Why pray the hours? It has become general practice in most Protestant communities which pray the hours to do so four times per day. In The United Methodist Book of Worship, there are four services of daily praise and prayer (These can be used for your prayer. They are structured for communal use more than individual use). For our purposes, you are encouraged to pray Prime (early morning prayer, when you rise); Terce (mid-morning prayer); Vespers (evening); and Compline (night). However, tailor which four you pray according to your schedule. If you are busy during the allotted time, skip and pick up the next one or insert one of the others that you do not usually pray. The goal is to create a rhythm of prayer that orders the entirety of our day, not to create a rhythm of panic that seizes us all day long!

If you choose not to use a breviary, that is okay, but know that you will be opting out of some shared traditional prayers: the Kyrie Eleison, the Gloria Patri, the Magnificat, scripture readings, readings from or about saints, and the Psalms. You may craft your own pattern for liturgy that includes some of these elements. Also, please strive to include praying the Psalms two times a day, even if it is only one Psalm each time.

Do not let this practice seem overwhelming. It need not be. It may be difficult to establish the rhythm early on, but the habit will form.

Also, don’t diminish the challenge. You are encouraged not to “squeeze” prayer in in the midst of other things. Actually, take the 3-10 minutes needed for each “hour” and concentrate fully on that time. It is time spent with God. It is time spent with one another even if you are not in the same room. Even if your mind wanders or you do not “enjoy” that time, that is fine. Right now is just a period of cultivating the practice. Over time, different methods or content can be introduced.

For those living in community, meet in the common room of your home to pray together. Assign a person to lead and allow that person to use whatever tool he or she chooses. The goal is to join together in prayer, not to prayer exactly as you prefer. Flexibility and grace are part of spiritual practice. If you are the leader, be mindful and considerate of your community. Think about the others gathered around you. How will your leadership affect their spirits for the rest of the day? In the end, be true to your role in both leadership and in service.

Prayer for one another daily. At least once a day, pray for each member of our community by name or through intention. Also, hold the community as a whole and its future in prayer. We are fledglings together. We all need prayer.

If you find this rhythm meaningful and would like to continue in it, we will pray with you and covenant with you for one year apprenticeship during which you will be a novice. After that time, you will decide whether you want to continue indefinitely or not.

The traditional Benedictine motto is ora et labora, which means “pray and work.” We have modified this for our community so that it says, “ora, labora, et gaude,” which means, “pray, work, and rejoice” because The Well is about a joyful community that delights in one another, God, and all of creation.

Our theology can be found in one scripture, Luke 10:27, which says, “’Love God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind;’ and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

This is the covenant by which we will live following Christ in community at The Well that we may “love God and love neighbor.”