When I began to learn about each in greater depth, I had an instinct that stability would be the most challenging for me. The vow of stability means we commit ourselves to a particular monastery and community. Or, another way to say it, from Pema Chödrön:
It's best to stick to one thing and let it put you through your changes.
That's hard for anyone, and it's really hard for perfectionistic/idealistic Val.
In August it will be eight years since I entered the community. And I have thought about running away at least 800 times. Or, as Joan Chittister writes:
When a monastic makes a vow of stability it is a vow designed to still the wandering heart.
Because it's that 801st moment of grace that gets me every time. And these past few weeks, I have been having a grace-filled experience of stability. I alluded to it in my last post.
Watching spring arrive in the natural world would be a source of joy for me anywhere I planted myself. But now that I have been at the Mount for eight springs, I am starting to notice things. I can tell that the little green leaves popping up will soon be fully blooming irises. I know that the forsythia became its beautiful yellow a little earlier last year than this year. And then, there's this tulip.
When you walk into our old convent where I work, there's a row of green along a fence. In the spring it's daffodils; come summer it will be mint. And right after the daffodils begin to bloom, there's this red tulip. When I saw it a week ago, I realized that it stops me in my tracks each year.
I love this tulip; I think it's just gorgeous. And if I weren't here each spring, I wouldn't have the opportunity to see it, to let it delight me. That's the gift of stability.
The 801st grace always comes. Alleluia!
Let us walk in the holy presence.