Monday, January 18, 2021

Stability in Unstable Times

Every day, we read new stories of angry violence.  Every day we see new figures of the pandemic’s cost in terms of human life, and we hear of unpredictable mutations.  Every day we hear of natural catastrophes--fire, storm, floods, earthquakes. Our swiftly changing world seems to become a quagmire of quicksand everywhere. 

The Benedictine commitment to stability offers guidance through circumstances both familiar and unexpected.  At heart, it reflects the steadfast fidelity the psalms we pray daily find in God.  It invites us very simply to live our convictions faithfully day by day into an unknown future.

The psalmists often describe God as a rock.  What better image than that could we hold before as we pray as we face all these constantly shifting sands?  God is the ultimate stability. God has always been there and will always be there from time immemorial to time unimaginable. God is always protecting us from the monsters who have emerged into the light of day from under the bed and in the closet where they lived when we were children. God is always loving us now into the future beyond the currents that seem to be consuming all normality.   Because we tend to imagine safety as an untroubled life unthreatened by suffering or death, we may have a hard time recognizing this ever-protective Rock, but stability includes the commitment to stand on it, take refuge in it, and believe in it even in darkness.  The psalms can strengthen us in this stable conviction as we pray them over and over.  Why not pick out your favorite psalms or your favorite lines and write them down somewhere you can see them easily?

We don’t live our stability alone.  Benedictine life is always essentially communal, even when no one seems to be around.  We were made in God’s image, so let us be Rock for one another and for those around us, as they may be for us.  The prophet Isaiah said of God’s faithful: “Each of them will be like a shelter from the wind, a refuge from the rain. They will be like streams of water in a dry country, like the shade of a great rock in a parched land” (Isaiah 32:1-2). We have a constant example in Christ himself, whom St. Paul described as the Rock in the desert (1 Corinthians 10:4). Our Rock, in our desert.

And Jesus, the Word of God, tells us that our one real security is to build our house, our lives on him, the foundation that is immovable rock (Matthew 6:47-49; cf. 1 Corinthians 3:10-11).

So let us pray for one another and encourage one another.  As the Rock—God, Christ, God’s Word -- becomes more real to us, let us help others to take refuge in it too. As we pray the psalms here at the Abbey, we keep you in our thoughts and prayers often.  I think Jesus might say, as he did to the disciples on occasion, “Go and do likewise.”  (And please include us in those prayers!)

©2021 Abbey of St. Walburga

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