"To practice stability is to learn to love both a place and its people. ... Without roots of love, we easily become slaves to our desires, using the place where we happen to be as a staging ground for our ambitions and manipulating the people around us so they might serve our objectives. ...until we give ourselves to a place--until we care enough to learn the names of its flowers and its second cousins--stability's wisdom suggests we cannot know about the One who so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son. [Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, "the Wisdom of Stability"]
Swirls of questions in my soul. They've always been there... "always" meaning, all the time I've been in this place. Am I here selfishly? To play a part? To complete my salvation in the eyes of the ones for whom living in these places is the most holy choice for living out one's faith in Jesus Christ?
One thing I know: people need loving; God's children need caring for. "We saunter in all broken and messed up inside," lyrics to one of my recent songs. And yes, all of us saunter in all broken and messed up inside. Even those of us whose holiness seems to outrank the rest of them, who have ever - Lord have mercy - thought we'd reached something, figured something out, "gotten" it. We are fractured and disconnected; and the whole point of Jesus is connection, putting back together, reconciliation.
In talking about how hard this is... this commitment to community, to stability, to even confrontation that arises in community, Jonathan offers this:
"The purpose of the confrontation is not to vent my anger or to 'get something off my chest.' It is to regain a friend that I have lost. The point is reconciliation." (chapter 4, "the Wisdom...")
Lord, have mercy! And give us roots of love.