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?