At first glance, it might seem that the vow of stability would produce stagnation. But for Benedict, the exact opposite is the case. It produces creativity. Why is this?
Simply because it is as we focus ourselves that our minds and hearts open up to new and larger perspectives. The busy person is the narrow person because there is no time to look at a thing from multiple angles. The person suffering from hurry sickness only has time to be superficial.
But the person who has taken the vow of stability—the vow to “stay put” (whether it be in a community or in an idea)—is the person who can stop, look, and listen to people, places, and things.
I do not know the history of monasticism, but learning this from the Rule of Benedict makes me think that the vow of stability is one reason why some of the world’s best art and theology has been produced by monks and nuns.
The principle is this: limitation leads to creativity (de Waal, page 59). Why? Because stability does not allow us to evade deeper reality in the alleged need to “move on.” On the contrary, a commitment to “stay put” means we have to accept the mundane as well as the marvelous—the simple as well as the spectacular. We become caught up in the whole truth, not just the piece of it that activism allows us to see.
This is not only true with respect to our environment; it is also true with respect to our own lives. Stability is the means by which we come to know ourselves, as we give ourselves time and space to explore our lives. When we are living hurried and harried lives, we can become defined more by image than by substance.
De Waal writes that stability “will not allow us to evade the inner truth” (p. 60), and it is from truth that creativity emerges.