Wherever we have fixed our hearts
whatever it is to which we have given them,
will determine the way we experience
all that is happening to us now.
Indeed, it is stability of heart, not stability of place,
that is the real monastic gift.
Stability of heart –
commitment to the life of the soul,
faithfulness to the community,
perseverance in the search for God –
is the mooring that holds us fast
when the night of the soul is at its deepest dark,
and the noontime sun sears the spirit. (160, 161)
These words from Joan Chittister’s book The Monastery of the Heart, riveted my attention during my recent spiritual retreat time. Stability of heart, or as I interpreted it stability of purpose – keeping our pursuit of God and care for neighbour as our central focus is what really matters.
It is more than thirty years since God established my calling statement To be a voice for the voiceless and bring glimpses of God’s shalom world into peoples’ lives. The way it is lived out has changed over the years but the central purpose of my calling has always remained the same.
What is your response?
What have you fixed your heart on? Do you have a calling statement that affirms your commitment to God and neighbour, a sentence or phrase that gives you a sense of stability of purpose? Write it down. If you don’t have a statement, write down a scripture verse or sentence that most strongly expresses your desire to pursue God and care for your neighbours.
Sit quietly in a position of prayer, and recite your sentence several times. Read it aloud, doodle around it. Allow God to speak to your heart. Remind yourself of the ways this sense of call has provided stability of heart and purpose for you in the past. Are there new things that God is wanting to give birth to as we approach this season of new life?
The Magi followed the star that they saw in the East with a very clear purpose – the desire to find the Christ child, the new born infant who would become king of the Jews, and worship him. (Matthew 2) Through long months of gruelling travel they determinedly moved towards their goal. First they came to Jerusalem and it seems that in this city in which everyone thought the glory of God would shine most brightly, their guiding light disappeared. Perhaps they were momentarily distracted by the glittering city and the welcoming rulers. Or maybe they momentarily lost sight of their true purpose.
However, in their hearts they knew that this was not their destination. As they left the city:
The star they had first seen in the East reappeared—a miracle that, of course, overjoyed and enraptured the wise men. The star led them to the house where Jesus lay; and as soon as the wise men arrived, they saw Him with His mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped Him. (Matthew 2:10,11)
Sometimes God’s guiding star leads all of us into unexpected places, away from the bright lights of Jerusalem and on to the backwater, humble town of Bethlehem.
As we lean into the light of God and journey towards Bethlehem it is important to remind ourselves of God’s purposes for our lives. I encourage you to take time to reaffirm and reimagine what that means for you at this point in your life.
What is your response?
Has the light of God’s shining star dimmed for you? Have you allowed yourself to be distracted by the bright city lights? Sit quietly with your calling statement in front of you and once more allow God to speak to you. Watch the video below. Are there ways in which God is asking you to once more follow the star?