I took three vows when I became a Benedictine Canon novice in February: obedience, conversion (conversatio), and stability. I've spent a good deal of time reflecting on each of these recently, and I'd like to spend time with them over the next few days. The strength and power of the vows becomes evident when one considers one's own weaknesses, so I will discuss the vows in light of my own weakness. I want to give consideration to stability today. Let's suppose that the journey through the novitiate became really difficult and I felt like I wanted to give up. One of the things that has been true of me in the past is that, confronted with great difficulty, I sink into my shadow's aching, heavy desire to withdraw. I have burned a number of bridges that way, including some that I wished I could restore later and couldn't. Stability implies that my shadow doesn't get to burn bridges when things become difficult. My vow is to be stable, to stay--to deal with whatever comes my way while maintaining my presence. When I'm healthy, when my heart's soil is well-tilled, I can do this, often utilizing supports that are already in place. St. Benedict knew that in community oriented away from self-interest and toward God and neighbor, much support would be available to the members of the community. My community is exceptionally supportive, even though it's small and we are not cloistered. Still, when things are hard and I'm not well, remaining faithful in the exercise of stability means having the humility to acknowledge that I need help even if I'm not sure I'll get what I need, whether from my community or anyone else. It's one thing to pray, "My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth," when one has lots of tangible help around oneself. It's another to pray it when God's help is perceived to be the only available source of help. At one's darkest moments, the vow of stability implies utter reliance on an uncapturable, untameable God. It's an invitation to fall, trusting that I will be caught, even though I have no safety net of my own devising in place. By taking the vow of stability, I've promised not to withdraw or give up, period. I've promised to see this journey through, no matter where the path takes me--even if it meanders out of the out of the comforts of community and into places of desolation. And if my foot slips from its foothold on the wall of a stark, vertical cliff? Then my vow demands that I must fall back into Spirit's enveloping breath. Will I shed the burden of fear when I fall? Will I fly on the lightness of hope?
Today my family is hosting a gathering of people we love, so yesterday I got to work. When my hubby walked in the house after returning from work, he thanked me for my efforts and attempted to apologize for my having to do all the house-cleaning. I said, "No, I like it! It appeals to my sense of order!" He proceeded to say I was sick and gave me a kiss as I grinned. The thing is, when my house is clean, it is spacious. We don't own very much stuff (spring cleaning + preparation for potential move somewhere at some point + pregnancy took care of that this time last year), so when the clutter is organized and the dust is wiped away, what's left is ample room. This is a space that can be breathed in by a harried mom or run in by an exuberant toddler or crashed in by a learning-to-walk baby. I gaze around the room and am grateful for the simplicity I behold. How does my heart reflect my hearth? What within me could use the loving touch of Eastertide refreshing? How may I live into the simplicity within me that I cherish so much outside of me?
Howdy. I'm Kate. And within the Enneagram personality indicator, I'm a three. As a three-type, I'm the sort of person who, my whole life, has been motivated by varying degrees of desire to succeed, to be praised, and to be valued by others. The healthiest three is the sort of person who is able to let go of her attachment to praise and valuing from others and to draw motivation for her actions from her heart's deepest desire. The healthiest three is one who is motivated not by the joys accessible outside herself, but by the joys accessible within herself. Yesterday, April 2, 2014--on an otherwise ordinary, unremarkable day--my heart blossomed, and I beheld my life's calling without fear or doubt. My motivations having to do with pleasing others were supplanted by the desire to serve my God in the place of my own deepest joy. I'm Kate. I'm a three. And as of yesterday, I am free from the bondage of outside affirmation. I am directed from within myself. I am free to be who I am called to be in the eternal now, no holding back. What will my life look like from this day forward? What will I be compelled to do and say and be for the sake of God and neighbor that I would have hesitated to do and say and be before?