I get this excerpt from Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove’s book, The Wisdom of Stability. I actually met him at Duke Divinity school. He is as humble and peaceful as his writing in this book. He is speaking of the discipline of stability in a mobile culture. It is a well-written, beautiful book, one that I’ll read over and over again. I usually go back to the good ones over and over again. An interesting thing to note is that he writes from inner-city Durham, NC where he has committed to staying with his family. There is great despair and hope visibly intertwined in his community. He is not writing from a serene country alcove. This book is one I highly recommend!
“When Jesus invites us into the rest of his his easy yoke, he is not saying that we can take it easy while he does all the work. Rest is not a couch where we kick back in front of the TV, glad to be home for the holidays. Rather, it is the place where we learn the rhythms for the work we were made for from the One who made us. Rest is coming home to the way of life that fits, learning to inhabit the story of God’s people and practice the craft of life with God wherever we are.
If stability challenges us to stay put in a mobile world, its wisdom also promises a way of life that is sustainable, giving rest to weary souls. By sitting in their cells and looking the devil in the face, the desert mothers and fathers were able to name the powers that keep us from life with God. Seeing the problem clearly, they focused their attention on developing practices that made it possible to resist the devil’s schemes. The very practical pursuit of life with God revealed to our desert forbears their utter dependence on the grace of God and other people. ‘One thing that comes out very clearly from the reading of the great desert monastic writers,’ says Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams, “is the the impossibility of thinking about contemplation or meditation or ‘spiritual life’ in abstraction from the actual business of living in the body of Christ, living in concrete community. The life of intimacy with God in contemplation is both the fruit and the course of a renwed style of living together.” Again we cannot rest in God without learning a new way of life with our neighbors. The craft of life with God is learned in the workshop of stability in community.”