remain

remain


My neighbor’s remaining place

As several states have begun to reopen over the last week, I have started to see photos across social media of people returning to shopping, appointments, etc.
I have felt an initial twinge when I witness these images. My thoughts buzz with
“I wanna do that too.” Perhaps because we have been at this sheltering time for longer than a couple of weeks, the feeling was short-lived. Don’t get me wrong, I would welcome fewer restrictions but I feel settled in waiting until it is deemed safer. There is also a corner of my mind and heart that doesn’t want to rush back into a “business as usual” mindset. I don’t want to go back to being consumed with consuming.
Which has caused me to think a lot about the word “remain”. 

remain: verb

  • to be a part not destroyed, taken, or used up
  • to be something yet to be shown, done, or treated (it remains to be seen)
  • to stay in the same place or with the same person or group
  • To continue to exist especially after similar or related people or things have ceased to exist
  • to continue unchanged

This word couldn’t be more fitting for this current passage of time. 

When I first began to think about the word remain and its definitions, my thoughts centered around what does it mean to stay in the same place with the same people?
I pondered what does it look like to remain when the world and future remain to be seen? But now, my thoughts rush towards what does it mean to be people who remain while others are released? After all those questions, the bottom line is simply how do we remain, day after day, no matter what anyone is doing to the left or the right?

The Benedictine monks take a vow of stability. This word stability means to be firm, to stand fast, to endure, to persevere, and to be rooted. It is the action of staying put, remaining steadfast, and faithful to the situation in which God has placed. It is persistently sticking with a situation, with people, and with God. Monastic stability is a commitment to a place and a group of people in the belief that this place and these people will help them to find God. 

We may have not taken a vow but this stretched out time has given the gift of stability. It takes new eyes and perspective to find it. 

This month marks 27 years of living in our home. This is actually time, not COVID-19 time!  Carl and I have often looked at our decision to “stay put” on the same street in the same house as practicing stability. We have made an intentional decision to stay and remain nestled among this particular set of people whether they leave or stay. It’s felt like a unique opportunity to firmly plant ourselves along our avenue. We only have to look at the maple tree we planted during our first year. It possesses deep roots and continues to reach up and out as a visual reminder of our  nearly three decades of dwelling.  There are so many stories and memories we share about the time in this house on this street. Oh, the dramatic happenings along this block I could tell you about but the ones which stand out are the births, deaths, feuds, and forgiveness. It’s part of the history that grows from remaining. 

This crisis is becoming a part of our individual and collective histories. Think of the conversations to be had while we remain together. The opportunity to linger longer over words instead of rushing off to the next obligation is precious. As home time has lengthened, hopefully, the guards surrounding our hearts have been lowered. Maybe what used to occupy our time has now dimmed, ceased, or proven unsatisfactory. So, we continue to remain in our homes because no matter how challenging, we believe it is for the good and that good things are on the horizon even if it isn’t visible.

I planted three peonies a few springs ago. I scroll Instagram and see photos of peonies heavy-laden with blossoms. I can almost smell the scent. Then I wander to the three places mine are planted and see healthy plants but not a bud in sight. What should I do? Should I dig and throw them in the compost? No, I will wait and allow them to remain and bloom at the appointed time despite my impatience and longing.  I believe the wait  will bring greater joy than today, it’s a hard-fought for hope.  When I am tempted to not securely believe this sentiment,  I look to the right where poppies planted years ago are covered in deep orange crepe paper-like flowers. The year before a strong breeze sent the petals of one solitary flower into orbit. 

What has bloomed in your life during this time?

What blooms are you waiting for? 

What seeds could be planted in spite of  hard soil and wait for a harvest?

Stay.

Remain. 

*****


May we be people who remain despite all unseen and unknown.

May we see this time of staying put as a gift to draw closer to one another.

May we grow deeper roots with the people who surround us.

May we reach out to others if we live alone and seek solidarity in remaining.

May we keep our eyes on where we are planted and not across the fence.

And may we know it is not too late to decide what will remain in us and what
can be released from us once
restrictions are lifted.


Benedictine stability resource

stability

stability

20140405_125855
I want every single portion of God’s inspired word to have a chance at my heart.
I don’t want a single issue in my soul to remain unmoved because I wasn’t
careful to expose myself to the full breadth of His wisdom and revelation.
I expect God to surprise me with insight from what I might have thought to
be the most unlikely portions of His words.
I want the full package, so I read the full package.

—from Secrets of the Secret Place by Bob Sorge

This weekend contained what I affectionately call Super Saturday.

For most of the nearly 21 years we have lived in our home, Carl has summoned his

work weary body to play early morning basketball.

He is a superhero in my book on the court as well as in winning the dark morning battle

against the comforter.

I call these Saturday mornings “super” because I am able to

rise a little a lot later than Carl and bask in the quiet of the house.

I spend time in the Word, perhaps catch up on a Bible study I am

doing with friends and can joyfully linger longer than on normal rushed mornings.

I pray and sometimes read a book.

I am recovered.

On Super Saturdays, I can luxuriate for an hour or more in the silence.

The curve of my soul longs for space, time and solitude.

Over the years there have been any number of combinations of slumbering

children pressed into beds on Saturday morning.

The youngest member of our tribe is made in the image of his hoops playing dad and

rarely sleeps long enough to my liking.

Super Saturdays are a gift I spread my arms

wider to greedily receive.

I resist the pull of extended slumber.

I don’t mind seeing my dog waiting at the bottom of our

steps.

We both are looking for an open door.

I fill a glass of water and prepare the kettle for tea.

I slide into my chair and exhale.

I breath out because I don’t want to inhale the chatterbox telling me,

I don’t have enough time, 

someone will wake up any moment,

aren’t you still tired.

I simply keep breathing and dive in that very second.

I write out a Psalm, read and pray through passages of scripture.

Upon reflection, I discover I have spent time in

old and new,

poetry, letters and history.

When the last verse is consumed I feel

flooded by the synergy of the passages.

I have one more day of reading in  Deuteronomy.

There has been an undulating rhythm in reading this time,

God, your God seems to open each verse.

There in the silence I whisper as well,

God, my God,

you are the one who ties each

verse from beginning to finale.

You are the one who invites me along despite my failings. 

You have intertwined me with your plans, purposes and promises.

Every plea I utter falls on open and affectionate ears.

As if the spell is broken I hear feet sliding

down carpeted stairs.

This sacred sequestered morning with my

Maker has informed my heart deep enough

to offer welcome to my semi-conscious son

instead of feeling interrupted. (Progress!)

Later in the kitchen over hot mugs of weekend fortitude,

I chat with Carl about my Super Saturday.

He says,

“This must feel like stability since you have been reading
the last couple of days.”

I respond with a grin,

Oh I like that word Carl.
Stability.
Thank you for saying that.

I’m going to hold onto
that word for a while.”

This response actually came an hour later, when I was finishing

a book and Carl was performing more heroic feats over

our bills.

What I immediately said to Carl was reflexive,

my default

steeped in

the school of perfection

and performance.

I have come to see them as twin idols flanking my mantle.

“Well, yeah, but I have been reading everyday.”

I voice my deep wonder about God and without

missing a breath, I feel the need to point out my “spotless” record.

Stability is found hanging out with the one who holds

the substance of my life in His hands.

Showing up is a discipline and doesn’t add tally marks to my worth.

I am stabilized when I exchange my horizontal posture

for a vertical position before Him.

Some days I am fortified by allowing Him to love me while

my head continues to dent my pillow.

God is all parts stability and this is a beautiful blessed reality.

A welcome relief to my soul.

I can find Him in 5-minute segments or occasional

Super Saturdays.

God in all His awe-inspiring stability makes every day super.