So, what is the underlying meaning of the promise of stability? When I make this promise, I will understand that I commit myself to a way of life which is ordered by the Rule of Benedict. I will commit myself to this community, following the Rule, under the prioress elected by the community. In making this commitment, I don't have a guarantee that I will never live anywhere other than the motherhouse at Saint Benedict's Monastery. I could be asked to serve elsewhere but, in doing so, I would remain stable in my commitment because I would be serving (under obedience) where the community felt I was most needed. My commitment isn't to the place, but to the community, the way of life and, ultimately, to God.
The monastic promises flow into one another. It isn't really accurate to view them separately because they are three aspects of one commitment: the search for God. My promise of stability means that I commit myself in the long term to living Benedictine monastic life. Far from that meaning I will not change, it means that I commit myself to a way of life which will me enable to grow and to become more aware of God as I live into the other promises of fidelity to the monastic way of life (conversatio) and obedience. One of the ways, I have found it most helpful to characterize stability is to look at it as stability of purpose. It's been noticeable to me in these weeks since I was accepted by Chapter that, with one or two blips, it's been a very good feeling to be this side the request, but that my life, as I live it out daily, hasn't changed markedly. This is reassuring because it affirms that I haven't simply been jumping through hoops these past five years: I've really been committing to living the way of life I'm going to live for the rest of my life. This doesn't guard me from the normal ups and downs of life. I'm still going to experience life as an ordinary person, with an ordinary person's reactions, but through all, however I am feeling, will run the thread of stability which roots me in my primary purpose in choosing this way of life: seeking God.