Stability creates an environment to grow and mature, rooting us deeply within and without, through endurance and perseverance, with a particular community and location.The practice of stability poses great promise. It also poses many questions. I am, by profession, in ministry--though I'm not employed right now. Traditionally, ministers move from church to church every so often. And my wife would have better job opportunities if we could move elsewhere. But even though we're willing to go wherever God sends us, I don't want to move around every few years. Sometimes better job opportunities aren't worth uprooting. Sometimes.
Stability calls us to a committed way of life with a certain group of people for the long haul. Stability in monastic tradition would also add the willingness to be grounded in a geographic location from which mission and ministry is birthed. From a place of deep listening to God and connection to the people around them, the community’s charism and calling is discovered.
In particular, stability requires a interior stay with-it-ness when external or internal forces toss us about, making us want to flee.
The principle of stability is deeply rooted in God’s faithfulness to us. It is promised, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” It is in this promise of God with us through His constant abiding presence we are able to commit ourselves to each other in God.
Abbey Way claims this principle of stability as its own. Antidotal to non-committal and individualistic forms of church attendance, stability names the real work of creating a community which is able to reflect the glory of Christ. As Abbey Way embraces stability as one of our core principals, we hope to create a consistent and accessible embodiment of the Gospel, enabling others to find Jesus and experience new life in Christ. (From http://www.abbeyway.org/principles/)
This year women are encouraged to post "I like it in the/on the __________," filling in the blank with where they leave their purse. So you get results like "I like it on the sofa," "I like it in the closet" and "I like it on the dining room table." Basically, it's like adding "in bed" at the end of your fortune cookie's pronouncement. Unintended, but de facto innuendo nonetheless. Neither the location of one's purse, nor an innuendo about it's location do anything to raise awareness of breast cancer.
Instead of playing a game with cancer awareness, let's just encourage our loved ones to get the check-ups they need and to take preventative measures. But let's make the awareness about the cancer and not bras or purses. It'll do us all good.
At the end of worship every Sunday, we close with this song from the Northumbria Community:
May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you,
wherever He may send you.
May He guide you through the wilderness,
protect you through the storm.
May He bring you home rejoicing
at the wonders He has shown you.
May He bring you home rejoicing
once again into our doors.
We had some discussion in our household over whether the lyrics are "protect you from the storm" or "protect you through the storm" (it is, indeed, "through"). There is a difference. Neither one is a bad thing to ask God to do for someone. But the reality is that we are going to have storms in life. We can ask God to keep them from us, but that's probably not a prayer He will answer in the way we want. In His infinite wisdom and goodness, God knows we need storms. Though they may suck to go through, they can be good for us.
The jackpine produces pine cones that need high temperatures for the cones to open up in order for new growth to occur. That heat usually has to come through the form of fire--a forest fire which in many ways devastates the landscape. But it also provides the opportunity for new growth to occur.
The storms in life (job change, loss of a loved one, betrayal from a friend) are terrible to go through. And I'm not necessarily that God creates those situations for us. But I also don't think He always wants to protect us from them either. God doesn't like to see us hurt, but I think He knows that sometimes we're better off going through those situations. We grow. We rely on others. We depend on God more. They help us be able to show compassion to others, because we have been through tough times.
So while we may not want to go through the storms of life, we will. But God is there with us, like a parent sitting next to their son while in the hospital with cancer or hugging their daughter after her first break-up from a boyfriend. May we go through the storms of life knowing God is with us, and asking for his protection as we go through them.