Reflection Masthead
Issue 120 - Stability - January 2015

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Stability of heart--

commitment to the

life of the soul,

faithfulness to  

the community,

perseverance in the

search for God--  

is the mooring

that holds us fast

when the night

of the soul

is at its deepest dark,

and the noontime sun

sears the spirit.


--Joan Chittister,

from "Stability of the Heart" in The Monastery of the Heart

Past Issues


2-Creating Sacred Space

3-Leaving Footprints


5-Ordered Life

76-Vanier Visit

87-Wondrous Fear, Holy Awe

91-Crater Lake



101-On Reflections 

102-Morning Moments

104-Into Self Into God

107-First Home

108-NBA Championship

110-On Freedom 

112 Robin Williams 


114-Simple Acts 

116-Kentucky Epiphany 

117-Sing Your Name  

118-The Unknown  

119-Christmas Mystery  

Link to all past issues  


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Movin' On

       My kids grew up watching their favorite TV program, "Movin' On" about two truck drivers on the road. The theme song "Movin' On" began playing in my head as I sat down to write this piece for our Reflection newsletter. Then I noticed online the list of 35 other songs and albums by that title. And, yes, there's I'm Moving On by Hank Snow from back in my day. Moving on is a common theme in many people's lives: instability in jobs, marriages, and all kinds of commitments.

       Centuries ago, Benedict of Nursia recognized the hazards of moving on and admonished for stability in his Rule of Benedict. Stability is the first of three promises Benedictines and Benedictine Oblates make along with ongoing conversion and acceptance (RB 58.17). So why the instability? As we take a look at the emotional underpinnings of instability, we see that generally they fall into one simple category: restlessness.                                

       Basically we fail to recognize that "Our hearts are restless until they rest in you, O God" and that restlessness is a normal human condition. Three excellent articles by  Ron Rolheiser, OMI, help to properly name restlessness: "Five People Who Helped Give Me Some Self- Understanding," "Naming Our Restlessness,"   and "On Whining and Weeping." Author Kathleen Norris named her restlessness, acedia, as a 'paralysis of the soul' in her marvelous book "Acedia and Me."

       The counsel of the ancient Desert Mothers and Fathers was always to remain 'in their cells', not avoiding one's problems but dealing with them. Seeking to create an orderly life also allays restlessness: keep a regular routine, go to bed early, and get up early; balance work, leisure, and exercise. Benedict often speaks of the hors competens, the proper, the appropriate hour, the right time (RB 47.1). Order, for Benedict, is a factor in healing. Naming our inner restlessness, dealing with our problems, and creating a sense of order can help to heal our instability. Then no longer do we have to sing, "I've been burdened with blame, trapped in the past for too long. I'm movin' on."

                                                           --by Jan

Changing Places
   "Far too easily do we embrace the illusion that changing places is the simplest way of changing ourselves" (Belden C. Lane, The Solace of Fierce Landscapes).

I have changed places often. I have lived in eight states: Oregon, Tennessee, New Jersey (3 times), Indiana (twice), Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maine, and Texas. Not to mention the three years I lived in Germany!         

When Jan and I married, 10 years ago, it was easy to decide where we would live. She had family in South Texas, and owned property here. I had never owned property and lived thousands of miles from my family. She had roots; I had suitcases.

Oh yes, I have wonderful memories of people I have known and places I have seen. Each place I have lived has made me who I am. I have learned much throughout my journey, and carry treasures gleaned along the way.

But one thing I learned is what I have lacked: stability. I have been married three times, moving in and out of extended families of in-laws. Children whose birth I have celebrated, I have not seen grow up. I also am guilty of having let good friendships slip away, losing touch as email addresses change and telephone numbers were lost. 

Mary Oliver writes "I have been risky in my endeavors, / I have been steadfast in my loves; / Oh Lord, consider these when you judge me." ("Whispered Poem.") I wish I could stay the same.

Benedictine stability, according to Lenora Black, OSB, is three-fold: stability within tradition, stability of place, and stability within relationships. Even for those of us who have often uprooted, the call to stability remains.  As Sister Lenora notes, the heart of stability is "being truly present in my present reality," trusting that the faithfulness of God is active there, even when we would "rather escape - anywhere but here and now."

"Abide in me," Jesus told his disciples, "as I abide in you." Here and now. Wherever you are. That is the heart of stability.

                                             - Bill
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Sincerely,  Bill Howden & Jan Davis
Soul Windows Ministries