May 2022 Lectio Divina and Oblate Reflections
Lectio Divina—Parable of the Sower, Mark 4: 1-20
Book Discussion—Stability: How an ancient monastic practice can restore our relationships, churches, and communities by Nathan Oates. (Introduction)
Mark 4:1-20 A sower went out to sow
We consider the question: How does the Parable of the Sower apply to the Benedictine value of stability? Words and phrases that resonate give us a rich perspective of the sower, the seed, the soil, and the fruit.
The sower sows regardless of thorns, rocky ground, little soil, or rich soil. The sower sows—a committed action to continue to sow.
It is not our job to worry about the harvest, but to continue the work. We are to dust off our shoes, and just keep going. We cannot bear fruit if the seed is not put in the ground. It is an invitation for us to trust that growth will happen, that there will be fruit from our actions.
We must surround ourselves with what nourishes the soil, the seed, and ourselves. When we sow, we are sharing God’s love.
Continuing to sow, or practicing stability, is a decision one makes. In the movie, “Of Gods and Men,” a story of nine Cistercian monks in Algeria, staying did not come easy for them in the face of danger. They considered leaving; they felt “We are like birds on a branch.” A village woman responded, “We’re the birds; you’re the branch. If you go, we lose our footing.” The monks provided the village with rootedness, but their commitment to stability came only as they grew in their faith.
Practicing stability gives us faith that we will grow to be more Christ-like by staying put rather than leaving. Like the sower, we must just keep sowing.
“…Stability births meaningful movement… restorative movement is deeply rooted and others-focused. It is the result of staying and finding…the secret of the kind of movement that restores is that it is the fruit of having not moved for a long time.”Stability: How an ancient monastic practice can restore our relationships, churches, and communities by Nathan Oates
Practicing stability is not stagnation; there is still movement. In many commitments including marriage, vocation, or career, one may want to throw in the towel many times, but promising stability provides rootedness to grow in that commitment. Growth happens by standing firm and practicing patient endurance, even when it feels like the seed falls on dry or thorny ground.
During the pandemic, we had to find stability where we were. This can be challenging if we are not firmly rooted. One cannot simply run away from problems. “The place is important not because of the place itself, but because of what staying in a specific place teaches and because of how it forms a person.” (Oates)
Stability must be balanced with other Benedictine values, particularly obedience and conversatio morum. Sometimes leaving a place, person or vocation is necessary. Practicing stability does NOT mean you must always stay; the key is discernment, listening, and continuing to be formed. Stability, or lack thereof, is for God and the person, not for others, to judge. We return over and again to the cell of the heart—listening within. Only we can do this for ourselves.
More questions to consider: What are we sowing? How do we become rooted? What is the seed for us? What gets in our way of being more Christ-like?