Vow of Stability

We are but flesh, a passing breeze that does not return (see Psalm 78:39).

God is stable…he changes not. His character changes not. However, everything else in life, is in a sense,  unstable. We are but flesh, a passing breeze that does not return (see Psalm 78:39). Yet, how we long for stability in our own lives! Rootedness in God and in a community.  An anchor. Is it possible?

Could it be that we play a part in the stability we long for? Can we remain present in a particular place to particular people even though it may cost us personal success? Could we stay put and present in our particular community? Would we stay for the good of others and ourselves–only moving if God moves us?

Quoting Father Guy, a monk from Blue Cloud Abbey, Dennis Okholm writes in his book, Monk Habits for Everyday People, “God has placed us in a community of people with whom we would not have chosen to live had it been up to us.”

Continuing on the thought of stability, Okholm notes, “But it means more than just remaining in place. Stability means being faithful where we are–really paying attention to those with whom we live and to what is happening in our common life. In fact, persevering in stability is really persevering in listening. A person who stays where God has put her (not in abusive situations of course) because it is with that group of folks, speaking the truth in love, that she will grow up with them ‘to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ,’ as Paul puts it to the Ephesians (4:11-16).”

He explains further, “Conversion and growth in character happen when we remain, not when we run. This is where the vow of stability links up with the vow of conversatio moralis (conversion of life).

To remain stable and present to others where we are would indeed require a conversatio moralis for many of us. But the concept of being present and faithful to God and to those around us–moving only if we are called to move–some would say forced to move–is something we have to think about.

Monk Habits for Everyday People pp. 90,91,92.

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