What irony that I would read Jonathan Wilson Hartgrove’s new book The Wisdom of Stability: Rooting Faith in a Mobile Culture on a plane and between flights in an airport. Returning from Portland, Maine, from a one day speaking event on immigration relations in the city.
I can immediately appreciate the spiritual, social and theological challenges of being constantly on the move that Jonathan discusses in The Wisdom of Stability.
As always Jonathan’s writing is fresh, and is able to get to the heart of our cultural malaise as a people always on the go, and how that leads us to live superficial lives devoid of care, attention and lasting commitments.
“Staying put and paying attention are, rather, dynamic disciplines aimed at helping us to grow and progress toward wholeness.” (51)
The Wisdom of Stability is not only a great spiritual reading book, but also offers insights and examples of habits and patterns of living that help us to put down roots in a ‘place’ and in ‘community’ as a way to grow into holiness and wholeness.
It is also a helpful book for understanding the significance of location (and ‘relocation’) as central to the work of reconciliation. Reconciliation is not only about the event of bringing warring communities to the table (like my being invited to facilitate town hall discussion on immigration issues in Portland, Maine) – the far more challenging task is the crafting (or ‘knitting’) of local neighborhoods that live in peace. Such a task, Jonathan’s book reminds us, is not spectacular; it has an ordinariness and everydayness to it – and remains always broken and incomplete; and yet there it is: the most concrete expression of new creation in a place.
The Wisdom of Stability is also a very helpful book in understanding mission (I definitely plan to assign it for my World Christianity classes) – as it speaks directly especially to those who feel called to make a difference in the world.
“To imagine stability as mission is not to assume that we will change our neighbors and the broken places where we are if only we can muster the resolve to stick it out. Rather, it is to acknowledge that there is good news in this place- stability at we might not have seen at first, but without which we could not even begin. If God is faithful in exile and present inhuman flesh, then everything – every place – is now holy. We learn to enjoy the fruit of stability as we embrace God’s mission where we are” (139).
Check out The Wisdom of Stability – and I hope you find it as fresh and helpful as I did.