The Wisdom of Stability

Our good friend Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove has a new book out called The Wisdom of Stability. We live in an incredibly mobile society that where on an average people move every 2-3 years.  Jonathan questions this way of life and claims that the need to become rooted in a community lies deep within us.  There is a great interview with Jonathan in Raleigh’s News and Observer in which he explains

“We felt that by moving again and again we could get to a place where you dig 10 wells 3 feet deep and never strike water,” said Wilson-Hartgrove, 29.

The Wilson-Hartgroves see stability as a virtue. The couple consider themselves modern-day monks, devoted to a religious community of like-minded people who practice prayer, contemplation and works of justice.  Read the entire article here

As one who spent much of my life on the move, this book resonated with me and my own need for stability.   I have long felt that all of us need stability zones and rootedness in our lives and am convinced that much of the fear and anxiety within our society is because of this lack of a sense of who we are and where we belong.

However Jonathan is the first one I have come across who has articulated this need as a Christian virtue partly because we need to be rooted in a community to care about it and become involved.  I know that many monastic orders in the past have called people to a commitment to place but that is not something we hear much about today.   This is a challenging and thought provoking book.  I would heartily recommend it to anyone who seeks to engage in their community as part of God’s call on their lives.


6 Responses

  1. The Benedictines still require the vow of stability (of the three vows a monk/nun takes) – one vows to remain in the community of one’s profession, unless sent forth for some reason.
    Surely, that sense of stability in community/family OUGHT to obtain for the entire Body of the Church.
    Or, am I just being idealistic or naive?

  2. Scott I think that you are right. Not only do we have no sense of commitment to a community but we do not have a sense of commitment to church either and I think that contributes to our feelings of insecurity and anxiety

  3. Sister, I manage an apartment building here in SF, but I have adopted the perspective of my Mother, manager before me and Marie, manager before Momma, that this is a community of souls, given into my care for safe-keeping.
    As ‘pater-familias,’ when I make a pot of soup or a pot of ham-and-beans, I make it known that any who are so inclined may bring a bowl and take a dinner home. Some do, most don’t…at least the pot is there for the hungry!
    My readings in the Gospels have taught me much – and I am a slow-learner – but I know this from what Jesus says (and my Nannie taught me over many years), we are not put here for ourselves only. We are each a unique point of HIS Light and Spirit, sent to illumine the darkness for others. It is not our place to ask how or when, it is simply to remain stedfast as HIS Ambassadors!
    These concepts of community, stability and running freely bare-foot through the soil, God’s Creation, is crucial to our survival as a race, but more, as humans created in HIS Image!
    Thank you for giving me the opportunity to rattle on.

  4. Thank you for sharing this. I’ve been struggling with thoughts about moving house – whether to, where to – and also with our church which is German-dialect-speaking, fairly hard for me to understand but virtually incomprehensible for my husband (but local and Godly and great for the kids and providing us with a great albeit small local community of non-native English speakers who we love and who love us very much). Maybe God can use this to shed some light for us!

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