“The meaning of marriage begins in the giving of words. We cannot join ourselves to one another without giving our word. And this must be an unconditional giving, for in joining ourselves to one another we join ourselves to the unknown. We can join one another only by joining the unknown. We must not be misled by the procedures of experimental thought: in life, in the world, we are never given two known results to choose between, but only one result that we choose without knowing what it is. . . . Because the condition of marriage is worldly and its meaning communal, no one party to it can be solely in charge. What you alone think it ought to be, it is not going to be. Where you alone think you want it to go, it is not going to go. It is going where the two of you—and marriage, time, life, history, and the world—will take it. You do not know the road; you have committed your life to a way. . . . The Zen student, the poet, the husband, the wife—none knows with certainty what he or she is staying for, but all know the likelihood that they will be staying ‘a while’: to find out what they are staying for. And it is the faith of all of these disciplines that they will not stay to find that they should not have stayed. As the traditional marriage ceremony insists, not everything that we stay to find out will make us happy. The faith, rather, is that by staying, and only by staying, we will learn something of the truth, that the truth is good to know, and that it is always both different and larger than we thought.” Wendell Berry
“As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven,
Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.”
Luke 9:51 NLT
Moving From the Head to the Heart
- Did you enter marriage thinking you knew what to expect? Don’t most of us marry with illusions?
- In staying at marriage we may learn something “different and larger than we thought.” If you’re married, what has that meant for you?
- Think about Jesus’ life from the point of view of “staying.” What does his example show?
Abba, what do you want me to discover as I stay?
For More: Standing by Words: Essays by Wendell Berry
“The first vow laid out in Benedict’s Rule is stability. To a monk or sister, it means being committed to stay in this particular monastic house with these particular people. It means being willing to look for God here in the constancy of this place in this rhythm of life, rather than seeking God in ever-changing places and varied routines. In Beyond the Walls: Monastic Wisdom for Everyday Life, Paul Wilkes calls stability a ‘sense of where you are,’ and he believes that our disjointed lives and fragmented society present ample evidence that we desperately need to embrace stability. ‘What was needed, Benedict taught, was maddeningly simple. It was a commitment to trust in God’s goodness–that he was indeed there, in that very place; and that holiness, happiness, and human fulfillment were to be found, not tomorrow or over the hill, but here–today. . . . Stability’s goal is that we might see the inner truth of who we are and [where] we are going. That we might be still long enough to be joined intimately to the God who dwells within . . . . It is difficult–no, it is impossible–to find and maintain that center if our waking hours are a blur of mindless activity, without the presence and practice of stability in our lives.’” Lynne Baab
“I begin to wonder if I, like the brothers at Taize and the desert monks, need to learn the discipline of stability. Do I need roots, when this earth is not my home? That third instruction from Saint Anthony sinks like a seed into the dark recesses of my heart and lies dormant for a long time: ‘In whatever place you live, do not easily leave it.’” Amy Peterson
“So Boaz said to Ruth, ‘My daughter, listen to me.
Don’t go and glean in another field and don’t go away from here.
Stay here with the women who work for me.'”
Ruth 2:8 NIV
Moving From the Head to the Heart
- Do you tend to give up too easily on a place? . . . a call? . . . a relationship?
- Will you determine to “wait for the right moment?” . . . to wait for God’s permission before you decide to “move on?”
Abba, slow me down when my instinct is to flee.
For More: Beyond the Walls by Paul Wilkes
Peterson, Amy. “Wanderlust: A Personal History.” Essay in The Other Journal: Geography, No. 24.
Wilkes, Paul. Beyond the Walls: Monastic Wisdom for Everyday Life. New York: Doubleday, 1999.
“Everything in life, contrary to Madison Avenue’s guarantees, can’t be cured or resolved or eliminated. Some things must simply be endured. Some things must simply be borne. Some things must simply be accepted. Community and relationships enable us to do that. …It is in community where we find out who we really are. It is life with another that shows my impatience and life with another that demonstrates my possessiveness and life with another that gives notice to my nagging devotion to the self. Life with someone else, in other words, doesn’t show me nearly as much about his or her shortcomings as it does about my own. In human relationships I learn how to soften my hard spots and how to reconcile and how to care for someone else besides myself. In human relationships I learn that theory is no substitute for love. It is easy to talk about the love of God; it is another things to practice it. That’s how relationships sanctify me. They show me where holiness is for me. That’s how relationships develop me. They how me where growth is for me. If I’m the passive-victim type, then assertiveness may have something to do with coming to wholeness. If I’m the domineering character in every group, then a willingness to listen and to be led may be my call to life. Alone, I am what I am, but in community I have the chance to become everything that I can be. And so, stability bonds me to this group of people and to these relationships so that resting in the security of each other we can afford to stumble and search, knowing that we will be caught if we fall and we will be led where we cannot see by those who have been there before us.” Joan Chittister
“Iron sharpens iron,
So one man sharpens another.”
Moving From the Head to the Heart
- Are you discovering “who you really are” through your life in community – perhaps as a spouse, sibling, parent, roommate, employee, church member, neighbor? What about you needs to change?
- Have you discovered in your relationships that some things won’t change and “must simply be endured?” Are you doing that well?
- Are you engaged in community life so that, you are not only learning about yourself, but changing? Is a probationary approach to relationships hindering your transformation?
Abba, help me to submit to this messy but essential part of spirituality.
For More: Wisdom Distilled From the Daily by Joan Chittister
These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and he seeks you. I hope you’ll follow and share my blog. I appreciate your interest! – Bill
“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”