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How Do We Stand? Stabilitas and Fidelity, Here, Now, and Glastonbury Abbey

How do we stand in ourselves in these times? What do we draw from? What do we have to give? What is our responsibility as humans, and to what? Twenty-five gathered recently at Glastonbury Abbey, where, as Cynthia says, “in a weekend on the Benedictine virtue of stabilitas we wove together Benedict and Teilhard, considering the meaning of this ancient value in our own world plunged onto instability on all fronts.”

We traced the presence, and absence, of the ancient and practiced stabiltas loci (stability of place) and stabilitas cordis (stability of heart) of the Benedictine tradition through our individual lives and lived experience to our common cultural experience in these chaotic and fragmented times. Drawing connections between stabiltas and Teilhard de Chardin’s fidelity––which he defines as the force within that communicates with the life that faith consecrates–– a sense of aliveness came into the room. Through this deep dive, together with Teilhard’s observation of evolutionary complexification, emerging consciousness and convergence, moving towards the Omega point, I felt the growing awareness of an already embedded body of experience rising to meet my deepest questions these days. A felt sense of the potent healing and the inevitable alchemy generated through a commitment to these principles in my life, in community, and ultimately to its place at the center of where we may stand as human beings in service to the newness, the unknown, that is wanting to be born through the tumult.

Returning home, I decided to augment my prayer with the embodied prayer of simply moving a bit and then grounding in; as Cynthia suggested at the close of the retreat, that we visit the depths of earth daily. I found an immediate connection to Cynthia’s specific noticing about the geosphere as separate from the biosphere, the geosphere holding the memory of deep time in stone and element, woven with all that has been given by the ancients. Penetrating the geospheric depths consciously, physically, energetically, I felt another level of connection to myself as born and made of earth matter. Beyond my previous experience of that truth. Allen’s very simple bending the knees helped ground it further, and it was oh so very strengthening; invigorating in a deep-in-the-legs sort of way. Palpable. The resources are given. We have what we need. It is all right here.

At Glastonbury on Sunday morning after vigils I made my way up to the labyrinth on the hill. Pine needles underfoot, tall trees circling close, generous blocks of old stone marking the path. My grief was pouring forth, and it was leading me to place, to earth. I walked into the labyrinth in the quiet, sobbing, and feeling–confession comes closest–the overwhelming grief of being a human and not knowing how, the desire to give to the greater organism and feeling all that has been severed, is being severed. A kind of physically falling into the place, with my confession, my part, as a part of the whole, in the failure of our responsibility. Looking up from the earth at my feet, straightening up and drawing from this point on earth to walk, my eyes met the eyes of a mature old hawk. He was looking at me from a low limb of one of the pines that root into the stones at the edge of the circle, a limb that extended right out over the labyrinth. He seemed comfortable with me and the place, so I wonder if he nests there and the monks know him. He hung out while I walked round, moved to couple of other low limbs in the same tree and finally flew a bit further off.Being together in this new world, the old world crumbling, can we begin to learn one another’s languages? Our common language? Exercise the fidelity that communicates with the life that faith consecrates? Learn to approach one another (and I include earth herself) with enough humbleness and truth and heart? Wait? Stay? Even in our vulnerability? Stabilitas.

I have been touched, as we all have been touched. As we touch one another. Consciously embracing in my daily practice this sense of touching the memory of the geosphere and the heart of the ancient ones, physically, as a creature of earth, can help me personally with that. As we did at Glastonbury together, as I did this morning in my home. Touchstone. Yes, a form of remembering. I can feel its accessibility right here and now, as I write; another portal to prayer without ceasing. With love and gratitude. 

Glastonbury Abbey

Comments (5)

  1. So beautifully written, Laura, and what an amazing sight to look up and see a hawk watching you, and your eyes connecting, a truly divine moment as you walked the labyrinth. I had a similar experience (of Awe) two years ago walking the labyrinth at St. Olaf College (Lutheran); after I exited the maze, I looked back and saw a cross projected onto the ground…made out of shadows from neighboring trees. Thank you for your essay!

  2. Dear dear Laura, As always you open and awaken my heart recalling what my soul needs to remember… thank you so much. May the Blessings from All That Is continue to encircle you and whisper her Deep Truths. Love, Joan

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