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The Rev. Dr. Kimberleigh Buchanan The Rev. Dr. Kimberleigh Buchanan

The Rev. Dr. Kimberleigh Buchanan is senior pastor of First Congregational Church (UCC) in Asheville, NC.

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Spiritual Stability

February 26, 2010


Spiritual Stability

A recent offering by Atlanta cartoonist Mike Luckovich shows the old Walton homeplace re-inhabited by the Walton clan.  In the scene, significantly older family members say "Good night" to each other from their bedrooms like "The Waltons" TV show used to end each week.  (Remember "Good night, John Boy"?)  Standing to the side of the house a woman comments: "Thanks to the economy, the Waltons had to move back in together."

I know of several families, who, if they're not moving back in with each other, at least are staying in houses longer than planned to prevent having to sell at a loss.  Luckovich is right.  Because of the economy, many of us are staying put these days.  We're putting down roots....whether we want to or not.

On the face of it, staying put is a major inconvenience, especially for folks who had grand plans of "trading up" or even down-sizing their homes.  I'm beginning to wonder, though, if staying put might actually be a gift.

Visits to Our Lady of Grace Monastery in Beech Grove, Indiana, always spark thought for me about the Benedictine vow of stability. 

For Benedictine monks, the vow of stability refers to staying in the same monastery with the same community for the rest of one's life.  That interpretation of stability doesn't apply to someone like me who has not been called to religious community life.

When you delve a little deeper into what stability means, though, it becomes clear that staying with one's life, committing to "being here now" at every moment of life, is crucial to a healthy spirituality.  If all we want to do is get away from our current life, what will we be able to learn about ourselves and, especially, about ourselves in relationship to God?

As Metropolitan Anthony Bloom says: "If I can't find God here I shan't find [God] anywhere, because the kingdom of God begins within us."   A certain brother in the desert learned a similar lesson when he "went to Abbot Moses in Scete, and asked him for a good word. And the elder said to him: Go, sit in your cell, and your cell will teach you everything." 

The lives our over-priced homes and under-valued paychecks and retirement funds are forcing us to live aren't pleasant most days.  But I wonder what we might learn about ourselves and about God if we simply sat in these circumstances and let them teach us?

Blessings on the journey,




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